In a new collaboration, Skyports Drone Services, a drone logistics, survey, and monitoring operations company, has teamed up with Norwegian energy company Equinor to lead a new project in the aerial mobility sector. This partnership aims to improve cargo logistics for offshore oil installations in the North Sea, setting a new standard for efficiency, safety, and sustainability.

The project, which commenced in early September, is the first-ever daily, on-demand drone delivery service initiated from shore to offshore oil rigs and uses highly automated cargo drones developed by Swoop Aero. The drones can cover distances of up to 114 kilometers and are currently shuttling cargo between Equinor’s Mongstad processing center on the west coast of Norway and three installations in the Gullfaks oil field.

Skyports Drone Services has conducted numerous flights with hundreds more planned throughout the two-month trial. These flights are transporting a diverse range of cargo; from spare parts and equipment to care packages, showcasing the versatility of drone logistics.

One of the most notable advantages of uncrewed drone services is their cost-efficiency, speed of deployment, and enhanced safety compared to traditional transportation methods. These drones can operate in challenging visibility conditions, including fog, pending regulatory approvals – a development that holds immense promise for the aerial mobility industry.

Moreover, the environmental benefits of electric drones is an important consideration for this operation as well. With zero operating emissions, they are a profound leap toward sustainability in the offshore sector.

The trial also highlights the potential for scaling drone services with minimal human intervention. Remote piloting by a small Skyports Drone Services team from Equinor’s ROC in Bergen ensures seamless operations. Equinor staff on the installations have received training to handle cargo, batteries, and drone interactions, underlining the adaptability of the system.

Initial results of the trial have been positive, paving the way for potential expansion to additional installations, thus shaping the future of aerial mobility in the offshore energy sector.

Alex Brown, Director of Skyports Drone Services, emphasized the project’s significance: “This project with Equinor proves that drone delivery can offer a safer, cost-effective, more sustainable alternative to conventional transport methods in offshore environments. We are currently exploring how we can expand this groundbreaking work into adjacent sectors such as offshore wind and ship resupply.”

The project’s success has been made possible through collaboration with Avinor and the Civil Aviation Authority of Norway, ensuring the necessary flight permissions are secured.

Why it’s important: The partnership between Skyports Drone Services and Equinor signifies a turning point in the aerial mobility industry. The collaboration showcases how electric drones can revolutionize cargo logistics, bringing new levels of efficiency, safety, and sustainability to offshore operations. As the trial continues to flourish, it opens doors for further innovation and exploration of aerial mobility solutions in adjacent sectors, ultimately helping to shape the future of logistics in challenging environments.

Posted by Naish Gaubatz