World’s First Use of Drones for Offshore Logistics Operations

Equinor will become the first operator to utilize drones for its offshore logistics services, commencing on 15 August 2022 from the Gullfaks C offshore installation in the North Sea By Caroline Rees / 23 Jun 2022
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Nordic Unmanned has received a call-off for the next phase of the Drone Offshore Logistics Contract with Equinor. The offshore operations will take place from the Gullfaks C offshore installation in the North Sea and will commence on 15 August 2022. 

The companies claim that the contract, awarded in December 2021, is the largest and most ambitious drone logistics contract in Europe and the offshore energy industry. The operation marks a new milestone for the drone industry and for Equinor, as the first operator to utilize drones for its offshore logistics services.

The start of the offshore operations is a result of an intense three-week onshore test phase, where the Nordic Unmanned team successfully verified the readiness for offshore logistics services. The team worked closely with Equinor in conducting multiple trials and demonstrations of drone logistics services.

“Through a step-by-step approach, where risk, maturity and complexity are mapped, we have gradually advanced our operations’ complexity,” said Knut Roar Wiig, CEO of Nordic Unmanned. “Together with Equinor, we are pushing the boundaries of what drones can do for offshore logistics, providing solutions that are more sustainable, scalable, and cost-efficient. Nordic Unmanned has proven its capabilities and is ready to provide offshore drone logistics as a standardized service.” 

The onshore and offshore test phase is part of the offshore drone service contract between Equinor and Nordic Unmanned. The contract scope involves multiple daily cargo flights between the installations at the Gullfaks field, and multiple daily flights between offshore installations and vessels in the Tampen area.

Credit: Øyvind Hagen. Copyright: Equinor - Flyfoto Gullfaks A - 1181097
Credit: Øyvind Hagen. Copyright: Equinor – Flyfoto Gullfaks A – 1181097

During the first stage of the offshore test at the Gullfaks field, Nordic Unmanned will conduct multiple daily flights between installations and from installation to vessels. The drones will fly goods between Gullfaks A, B and C, as well as to vessels within the area. This aims to improve the efficiency of offshore logistics and will reduce emissions, leading the industry towards a more sustainable future.

“We are thrilled with our achievements during the onshore phase of the project and are now eager to start the offshore part of the project. The support from Equinor and willingness to push the industry forward is crucial for developing drone offshore logistics services,” said Pål Kristensen, Vice President Logistics, Nordic Unmanned. “It is great to see how we can utilize technology to increase efficiency and get a higher level of autonomy, proving the scalability of offshore drone logistics as a service. One unique example is how we will utilize drones to efficiently transport dangerous goods between offshore installations and vessels. This is one of many examples of how we have matured our solutions to support the offshore industry.”

The operations are made possible by Nordic Unmanned leveraging its EASA LUC (Light UAS Operator Certificate) to self-approve operations and through close collaboration with its partners Airbus DeckFinder, Schiebel, Planck, TAU Autonomy Center, Stavanger Airport, Avinor, CAA Norway and Norwegian Communications Authority (NKOM).

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Posted by Caroline Rees Caroline co-founded Unmanned Systems Technology and has been at the forefront of the business ever since. With a Masters Degree in marketing Caroline has her finger on the pulse of all things unmanned and is committed to showcasing the very latest in unmanned technical innovation. Connect & Contact