Spotlight: Drones enhance safety inspections across the company

ExxonMobil frequently tests new technologies that have the potential to enhance safety performance while maintaining operational efficiency.

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Spotlight: Drones enhance safety inspections across the company

One example is the increasing use of unmanned aerial vehicle technology, commonly referred to as drones. We have been using, researching and testing drone technology since 2012. 

In 2017, we expanded the use of drones to include aerial inspections at offshore platforms in Canada and Australia and storage tank inspections at our Fawley, U.K., refining and chemical operations. Rock outcroppings in Utah were inspected using drones in order to test their ability to provide detailed imagery for interpreting geological formations. The results positively reflected the ability of drones to gather valuable information for our operations. 

Drone technology often provides a safer, more cost-effective way to obtain real-time aerial surveillance by limiting personnel exposure to locations with a higher risk for potential injury. Our Upstream Research Company is testing additional ways to use drones for right-of-way inspections, iceberg detection, wildlife detection and emergency response. We used drones immediately following Hurricane Harvey in August, 2017 as part of ExxonMobil’s emergency response efforts. 

I see significant opportunities for our manufacturing and Upstream businesses to reduce safety risks while obtaining better, real-time information at lower costs by using this technology.
Peter Hua

Business support manager, information technology

Photo — Peter Hua, business support manager, holding a drone used for an industrial inspection. ExxonMobil uses drones for a variety of applications to improve safety and maintain operational efficiency.

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