Reliance wants 'drones' to patrol refinery skies

Vol 18, PW 4 (09 Oct 14) People & Policy

Just last month (September) the US employed an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, popularly known as a drone, to fire missiles that killed two Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen.

Drones are increasingly used in global conflicts so countries can avoid putting troops on the ground. Now Reliance has latched on to the idea and wants to use drones to carry out round the clock surveillance against terrorist threats at its 27m t/y Jamnagar refinery in Gujarat, which sprawls over 7500 acres.

Reliance has won oil ministry support for its proposal. “We’ve recommended the plan and sent the file to the home ministry for approval,” confirms an oil ministry refinery department source on October 1.

“Now the home ministry can decide if drone surveillance is required. Reliance already has CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) security cover since November 2010.

” Some believe Reliance is following the lead of BP, it upstream partner in India, which in May this year won US Federal Aviation Administration approval to use drones to monitor its Alaska operations at Prudhoe Bay. BP has reportedly signed a five-year contract with California-based drone-maker AeroVironment to survey 200 miles of gravel roads, well pads, a gravel pit and 1300 miles of pipeline.

If the home ministry approves, Reliance will be the first Indian company to deploy drones at its installations.