Geologists in Saudi Arabia use UAVs for oil and gas exploration

Researchers at the EXPEC Advanced Research Center in Saudi Arabia have started using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to access challenging geological features and terrain.

During two half-day-long trial tests in the Lidam area, an UAV gathered approximately 5,000 aerial photos across the entire outcrop with a resolution of 0.25 millimeters per pixel despite wind and rain.

"This mission would have taken over two days and required more people by the conventional method of acquiring several geological measured sections and would not have provided us the detailed results of the UAV’s capabilities," Salem H. Al Shammari, consultant and project leader at Geological Technology, said. "This technology definitely saves us time and effort and will become quicker after a few more trials."

In addition to reducing hours spent in the field and the number of people needed to conduct field work, UAVs enable geologists to acquire close-range photos of unsafe areas such as cliffs and karsts. Geologists can then build digital models of the outcrops from the UAV photos and interact with the model to extract more vertical sections or focus on a specific area without having to physically revisit the outcrop.

Organizations in this story

Saudi Arabian Oil Company Dhahran, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia Dhahran, Eastern Province

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