Oil & Gas UK announce new guidelines for the use of drones offshore

A new publication to help guide the growing use offshore of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) – also known as drones - has been published by Oil & Gas UK.

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Operations Management Standards and Guidelines were developed by a work group set up by the trade body, involving industry and aviation safety experts, plus UAS operators.

Mick Borwell, health, safety and environment director with Oil & Gas UK, explained: “A small but increasing number of oil and gas operators are using UAS for inspections predominantly, but also for aerial photography, surveying and security.

“The technology is particularly attractive for its use in improving safety.For example, sending unmanned aircraft instead of people into confined spaces to conduct inspections reduces risk, and is also effective and efficient.We expect their usage to grow.”

The new guidelines aim to achieve consistency with the high safety and operating standards already adopted on the UK Continental Shelf for offshore oil and gas production and helicopter flight operations.

“The intention is to encourage offshore operators planning on using this emerging technology to think about the whole operating and safety system offshore and not just the air vehicle,” said Mr Borwell.

“The guidelines have evolved from lessons learned in recent years and provide information about best practice, procedures and the certification needed to be compliant with UAS regulations.They are an important piece of work addressing the application of a new technology to the offshore environment which will help to ensure operations on the North Sea remain as safe as they can be.”

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Operations Management Standards and Guidelines can be downloaded from the Oil & Gas UK website and are free to members and £60 to non-members.

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