Understanding the Benefits of FLIR Equipment In the Oil and Gas Industry
Companies that are looking to invest in superior technologies for their oil and gas operations would do well to consider optical imaging. Forward-looking infrared cameras (FLIR’s) use a thermographic camera that senses leaking infrared radiation, noticing any escaping emissions that otherwise would be hard to spot. Employed in a variety of different industries, the FLIR camera is most commonly used to keep fugitive emissions in check.
First founded in 1978, the FLIR company initially provided infrared imaging systems on vehicles for energy audits. Today, their technology has been adopted for a wide variety of commercial, industrial, and government markets – both internationally and domestically. These cameras use an advanced focal plane array detector that’s tuned to very narrow infrared ranges. It’s this sensitivity allows it to detect and display infrared energy absorbed by hydrocarbon leaks, and the FLIR high sensitivity mode enables images to clearly show gas presence against stationary backgrounds.
In terms of practical applications, FLIR has a quite a few.
Perhaps most notably is the sheer scale and improvement in productivity that these devices bring to the emission detection process. Cameras can scan a broad area far more quickly, especially in places that are typically difficult to reach in comparison to more traditional methods (e.g., Method 21). During a field study conducted for the City of Fort Worth, surveyors compared scanning with FLIR cameras in comparison to more traditional methods and concluded that the former was at least nine times faster than the later on the same site equipment.
In addition to productivity, cutting down on maintenance times and costs is a well- known benefit to FLIR’s. One of the most notable instances is that of Jonah Energy, an oil and gas company that made the switch to FLIR GF320 OGI cameras. Besides enabling quicker response times for inspectors and repair personnel, the cameras also improved the speed that scans are conducted as well. Being able to perform quicker evaluations on a more frequent basis has its benefits, as quarterly surveys have been shown to reduce emissions by 80 percent, with semi-annual scans cutting them by 60.
Jonah energy ended up reducing their fugitive emissions by 75 percent, lowering their total repair time from 705 hours to 106, and nearly eliminating labor costs from $348,000 to $20,500.
Speaking of reducing emissions, infrared technology has already gained traction as a “green” solution to help reduce environmental impact. Quicker inspections and leak-identifications contribute to fewer emissions escaping in the first place. This simplification of the inspection process is not only helpful for a company’s balance sheet but can speed up state and federal inspection requirements as well.
Safety concerns are another area that this technology can help in the workplace. The incorporation of FLIR cameras helps yield more information about an area before people enter potentially hazardous workplaces. Being able to scan an environment from a safe distance before sending in workers is a valuable extra precaution. Additionally, workers won’t need to be manually inspecting difficult to reach areas, reducing both repair time as well as the potential risk of injury to employees.
In light of the alternatives, the FLIR camera offers a host of benefits that many companies are seizing upon and promise to be a mainstay in the industry throughout the coming years.
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