GAIL India Plans to Use Drones to Secure Gas Pipelines
GAIL India, the country’s biggest gas transporter, will deploy drones on a pilot basis on its main trunk
pipeline as part of higher safety measures it is implementing to secure its vast network.
In the aftermath of the June 2014 accident at its pipeline in Andhra Pradesh that killed at least 18
people, the state-owned firm has taken a number of initiatives to raise safety standards including
replacing old pipelines and using advanced technology.
“We plan to use drones on a pilot basis on a 200-km stretch of the HBJ pipeline in the Chambal Ravines
in Madhya Pradesh,” GAIL director (projects) Ashutosh Karnatak told PTI.
The company has already tendered for drones and the response has been encouraging. “We hope to
award the tender in a month’s time,” he said.
The drones will be used to patrol the pipeline to detect physical abnormal activity like encroachment or
GAIL India has also started using satellite surveillance to monitor its 13,000 kms of gas pipeline network.
A government probe into the June 2014 accident had highlighted safety lapses at the firm and prompted
sector regulator PNGRB (Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board) to slap a penalty.
Mr Karnatak said drones will be used to detect encroachments around pipelines as they are a big safety
In the pilot project, a drone will fly over the pipeline, capturing pictures and other data using smart
technology. The data will be analysed to detect any potential hazard.
“We estimate a drone may cost Rs 2.5 crore or so,” he said, adding that the company is experimenting if
technology can replace patrolling.
If successful, drones will be used on other key pipelines.
GAIL, at present, uses foot patrolling to spot encroachments and seeks local administration’s help in
getting them cleared.
Drones will however not be able to detect any leakage, for which the company will continue to reply on
sensors and patrolling, he said.
“We started using live satellite monitoring of the pipelines this year and we are now integrating advance
Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (UAV) with this system,” he said.
Pipeline securities is a major issue across the world and with recent progress in satellite sensing
technology, availability of new high resolution satellites and object-oriented image analysis, there is a
possibility to introduce space technology for pipeline monitoring applications.
GAIL did a pilot project on satellite monitoring on its 610 km Dahej-Vijaipur pipeline.