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News 25 July 2016

remotely piloted aircraft monitoring QGC project wells near Wandoan in western Queensland

Leading-edge technology brings community benefits

Shell today welcomed an announcement by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of $1 million in Queensland Government support for a major research project that builds on the company’s adoption of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), or drones.

The Advance Queensland project follows a partnership between Shell’s QGC project and Boeing that has developed the world’s first commercial use of beyond-line-of-sight RPAS.

The RPAS monitor natural gas wells and associated infrastructure which, until now, have mostly been inspected on the ground by four-wheel-drive.

Shell’s Vice President QGC Tony Nunan said: “The project is proud to be introducing into our operations an emerging technology that will benefit both the resources and agriculture sectors.

“Landowners will benefit, over time, from fewer visits to their properties while QGC and the community will benefit from fewer vehicles on the roads.

“Our remotely piloted aircraft is operated by a world leader in this field in strict compliance with air safety regulations and following 18 months of successful trials.

“QGC’s natural gas business is employing thousands of Queenslanders and producing natural gas for domestic markets as well as LNG exports to generate earnings and benefits for our state.”

The Advance Queensland project will further support safe RPAS operations by ensuring awareness of all other aircraft in the vicinity of a flight. It will also involve development of technology to enable a wider range of uses of data gathered.

This will enable broader adoption of RPAS by other industries including agriculture.

RPAS are operated for QGC by a world leader in this field, Insitu Pacific, which is a specialist subsidiary of Boeing and operates in line with strict privacy controls and policies. QGC does not receive imagery of people’s homes.

Insitu Pacific operates the aircraft, which have a 3m wingspan and fly at 1,500-2,000ft, in compliance with air safety regulations of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

Shell’s QGC project is a partner in the Advance Queensland project, along with Boeing, Insitu Pacific, Telstra and locally-based small to medium-sized enterprises.


Images and video of RPAS in operations are available from flickr and Vimeo.