SPE Creates New Technical Section

The newly launched Unmanned Systems Technical Section will provide a central hub for questions, answers, discussion, collaboration, and networking around unmanned marine, air, and land vehicle systems, software solutions, and power systems for the oil and gas industry. Unmanned systems include remotely operated, autonomous surface, autonomous underwater, unmanned underwater, unmanned aerial, and autonomous aerial vehicles.

Remotely operated vehicles have been used by the oil and gas industry for approximately 40 years for subsea operations. Over the last several years, drones are just starting to be used for a number of applications such as surveying and inspections. In the near future, autonomous cars, trucks, ships, and aircraft will change the logistics landscape in ways we can only begin to imagine. Ultimately, it’s not the hardware or software, but the solution that these existing and new technologies bring to the oil and gas industry to improve safety and the efficiency of operations.

Unmanned systems are used in subsea well construction and support, terrain mapping, inspection of rigs and facilities, nondestructive evaluation of pipelines, transportation, surveillance and security, and facility planning and monitoring. Hisham Saadawi, SPE Production and Facilities Technical Director, wrote about the latest developments and applications of these technologies in his Oil and Gas Facilities column, “Unmanned Vehicles and Robotics Gain Momentum.”

The technical section officers include Daniel De Clute-Melancon, Weatherford, first chair and community webmaster; Susan Nash, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, program chair; Chris Mentzer, Southwest Research Institute, administrative chair; Trey Mebane, Chasm Visions, membership chair; and Ed Tovar, InTechSys, treasurer and sponsorship chair. Balaji Ramachandran, Nicholls State University, serves as academic director. The Unmanned Vehicles Technical Section welcomes interested SPE members.