It’s another sign that drones are going mainstream in the oil, gas and power sector: big names in the industry are joining the boards of top commercial drone companies.
The energy sector is rapidly becoming a major growth vertical in commercial drones, as the return on investment (ROI) for drone inspections becomes clear. While the last few years have seen the traditionally risk-averse industry launch pilot programs and partnerships, the sector now appears ready to scale up their drone technology programs.
There have been numerous signs that the energy vertical is ready for takeoff. They have their own advocacy and education group, the Energy Drone Coalition. Not only is the oil, gas, and power industry heavily represented at drone expos, they have their own summit: the Energy Drone and Robotics Summit will be held next month. Drone manufacturers are developing aircraft specifically for the needs of the industry. Industry case studies reporting significant ROI for drone inspection abound.
And while we’ve seen a few names from the oil, gas and power industry join regulatory groups, some very big names are starting to join drone company boards, in a sign that industry leaders recognize the importance of drones to the sector. US-based unmanned industrial inspection and data solutions provider AviSight has announced the addition of two titans in the industry: former Chairman and CEO of Shell Oil Company, Marvin E. Odum; and former President nad CEO of EOG Resources Inc., Gary L. Thomas.
“To have just one of these titans join our board would have been an amazing honor. To have both of them join really sends a signal to the industry about what AviSight is accomplishing in the market, and what we will accomplish in the very near future.” said J.B. Bernstein AviSight CEO and Chairman. “I know I speak for everyone at AviSight when I say we are honored and proud to welcome them.”
Odum was at Royal Dutch Shell (London: RDSA) for more than 30 years, and Chairman and CEO from 2008-2016, building the multi-billion dollar business with a remarkable strategy of nurturing new lines of business and improving the efficiency of old ones. His presence on the board is a vote of confidence for AviSight and for the drone industry. “AviSight has already developed an exceptional and differential set of capabilities in their market and it is my expectation is that they will continue to set the standard for the industry,” said Odum.
Gary L. Thomas brings over 30 years of pioneering experience in oil and gas engineering to the board. As the President of EOG Resources, Inc. (NYSE: EOG), an oil and natural gas exploration and production company, he continually led his organization and the industry, until Dec. 31, 2018, when he retired.
“UAS application has already proven to be the fastest, most effective and lowest cost method for surveillance and inspection of critical infrastructure. Now with AviSight’s human-drone technology and analytics, we can shift from being reactive to proactive and preventive in our operations,” said Thomas.
It’s that shift – from preventative maintenance to predictive maintenance – that represents the highest value drone inspections offer for large industry. The ability to gather huge quantities of precise data at a comparatively extremely low cost – and minimal downtime – combined with AI powered processing of the data, opens new possibilities for managing big industry, especially in oil, gas and power. Having gone through a few years of testing, the industry now seems ready to explore all of the possibilities drones can offer.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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