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Drones creating buzz in Permian Basin oil field

Drones with advanced cameras are streamlining services at oil sites.

MIDLAND, Texas — Imagine the detail of an entire oil site at the tip of your finger-now 3D models can bring pump jacks and rigs to your handheld device.

That service is now available in the Permian Basin through a partnership from Thermal Cam USA and Ondaka.

"We can map out a location like this or an oil field location or a drilling rig, we'll fly it for them and we'll take anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 pictures of that location, and they'll stitch it or map it together into a reality program," said Peter Walper, owner of Thermal Cam USA.

Walper and his staff operate a fleet of drones equipped with advanced cameras, and with video game like controllers in their hands. His staff and a fleet of drones with advanced cameras are streamlining a number of services at oil rig sites.

"It's more efficient and economical, our cost to fly a drone is much cheaper than somebody on the ground with a camera than somebody in a plane with a camera," said Walper.

Thermal Cam USA offers a number of drone based services including general surveying and infrared analysis.

The company's infrared analysis can detect methane leaks in pipelines down to the parts per million.

"We can tell you where that pipeline is leaking, which is pretty cool stuff if you consider it's underground and that drone and camera system can fly it faster, easier and more economical than a helicopter or a plane," said Walper.

According to Walper those services were just scratching the surface. "Software is what we use to put us on the cutting edge for oil companies."

For example, with the company's partnership with the software from Ondaka digital drills and virtual pump jacks are a reality.

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