Equinor, Nordic Unmanned start offshore logistics operations using drones

June 22, 2022
Equinor is the first operator to utilize drones for its offshore logistics services, which will take place from the Gullfaks C offshore installation in the North Sea.

Offshore staff

SANDNES, Norway  Nordic Unmanned has received a call-off for the next phase of the drone offshore logistics contract with Equinor, according to a recent Nordic news release.

The offshore operations will take place from the Gullfaks C offshore installation in the North Sea and will commence on Aug. 15. 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 release stated.

The start of the offshore operations is a result of a 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 Nordic Unmanned CEO Knut Roar Wiig.

The onshore and offshore test phase is part of the offshore drone service contract between Equinor and Nordic Unmanned. The contract awarded in December 2021 is the largest drone logistics contract in Europe and the offshore energy industry, the release stated.

The 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. 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 project is designed to significantly improve the efficiency of offshore logistics and reduce emissions.

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.    

"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," said Pål Kristensen, vice president of logistics with Nordic Unmanned. "The support from Equinor and willingness to push the industry forward is crucial for developing drone offshore logistics services. 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."