Polish company to use drones for gas leak detection

Poland's gas monopolist PGNiG wants to use drones to make precise maps and plans, to monitor gas pipelines and for the detection of possible gas leaks.

Engineers at PGNiG's start-up incubator are working on drones which would meet the needs of Poland's largest gas supplier.

Lukasz Kroplewski, PGNiG deputy CEO, said Monday that companies from the PGNiG Group want to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in their daily work.

Polska Grupa Gazownictwa (PSG), operator of a gas distribution network, is especially interested in drones equipped with special sensors, including infra-red cameras. PSG has some 180,000 kilometres of gas pipelines and thousands of gas facilities. PSG's Mariusz Konieczny said his company is obliged by rules to control all pipelines from the air at least once a year. This is done with the help of helicopters. Control with the use of drones would be quicker, less costly and safer for people, said Konieczny.

PGNiG is also planning to use drones for making very precise maps necessary in gas and oil exploration. PGNiG's Jozef Potera said the use of UAVs, especially in difficult terrain, will bring very significant economic profits.

Kroplewski stressed his group is open to new ideas and has its own PLN 700 million (EUR 167 million) top invest in innovations as well as additional funds from the EU and Norwegian funds. During the next five years the sum may reach PLN 1 billion (EUR 240 million), said the PGNiG deputy CEO.