Robotics/unmanned systems

Equinor Completes Drone Logistics Operation for Troll A Platform in North Sea

The Norwegian company completed what it describes as the world’s first logistics operation with a drone to an offshore installation.

Workers looking at large drone
Credit: Equinor.

Equinor completed its first long distance freight logistics drone operation for an offshore installation in the North Sea. The company flew a 3D-printed part for a lifeboat system 80 km from the Mongstad base to the Troll A platform at an altitude of about 5,000 ft.

The drone, a Camcopter S-100 model, manufactured by Schiebel, went through testing and 70,000 flying hours from other types of operations within the defense and coast guard services. It’s more than 4 m long, weighing over 100 kg, with a cruising speed of more than 150 km/h, and a cargo capacity of 50 kg.

The 3D-printed part for the drone transport was a diesel nozzle holder, a component in the lifeboats on Troll A. The part is not manufactured anymore,and is difficult to obtain, so a 3D replica was created in industrial alloy Inconel 718.

Arne Sigve Nylund, Equinor’s executive vice president for Norway development and production, said the company is rapidly developing its drone technology, which may transform how it operates below and above the sea surface.

“Equinor aims to lead the way in utilizing new technology on the Norwegian continental shelf [NCS],” Nyland said. “Drones could reinforce safety, boost production efficiency, and contribute to lower CO2 emissions from Norwegian oil and gas. Drones will also play a role as we shape new energy solutions on the Norwegian shelf.”

Equinor Logistics Solution Head Alena Korbovà Pedersen added the company expects to see new infrastructure for logistics and support operations over the long term, which can reinforce what it has within vessels and helicopters.

“If we are to develop the logistics solutions of the future on the Norwegian shelf, where drones could play an important role, we must cooperate across all of the industry’s players—operating companies, suppliers, the authorities, and the trade union and safety interests,” Pedersen said.

In addition to logistics operations, the company said drones can be used for inspections and observations of the technical condition of its offshore installations and onshore facilities, search and rescue operations, and early sea pollution detection.

Drones will also be used in new energy solutions on the NCS to inspect wind turbines, deploy equipment for maintenance and repairs, and avoid costly vessel lifts that can leave an environmental footprint.

The world’s first logistics operation with a drone to an offshore installation.