Volatus, Synergy pair for drone inspections of oil and gas infrastructure

Volatus Synergy gas infrastructure

Canada’s diversified drone services company Volatus has announced it is acquiring a majority stake in Alberta-based Synergy Aviation, which specializes in UAV deployment in the inspection of vast expanses of oil and gas infrastructure.

Volatus said the deal to bring Synergy aboard will provide it immediate access to Western Canada’s large oil and gas industry, and further broaden its array of drone hardware, services, and pilot training activities. Volatus noted the deal is based on an arms-length agreement, meaning both companies are acting in their respective, yet overlapping interests to strengthen their businesses by coming together.

Indeed, Synergy is on target to record around $9 million in revenues this year from its drone inspection of gas and oil customers’ terminals and pipeline infrastructure. Volatus, meanwhile, serves energy sector clients of its own.

ReadVolatus gets special Transport Canada BVLOS drone certification 

Under the deal will additionally receive nearly $2.3 million in investment from Volatus in exchange for an initial 51% stake. Current shareholders will have the option of selling the acquiring company the remaining 49% for a similar sum.

However, even the simple majority position will permit Volatus to throw its drone sector experience behind Synergy’s plans to expand its drone inspection work to ensure clients’ gas and oil assets are secure and meeting regulatory requirements. The company also performs valuable geomatics services, involving the collection and analysis of various data of the geography surrounding infrastructure.

Western Canada hosts about 500,000 kilometers of pipeline stretching from the coast of British Columbia to Manitoba’s border with the US. Though Synergy is already a leading actor in helping oil and gas companies switch from costly helicopter- and plane-based inspection of infrastructure to cheaper and often more effective drones, company president Todd Tkach says the business will seek to grow beyond the region as a part of the larger Volatus group.

“There are nearly 5 million kilometers of oil and gas pipeline in North America requiring annual inspections and, in many cases, weekly patrols to meet regulatory and asset management requirements,” said Tkach. “Becoming part of Volatus gives us the added geomatics capabilities, market reach, and the opportunity to disrupt traditional methods in this sector.” 

Read: SoCalGas to deploy Doosan hydrogen drones in pipeline inspections 

Broadening its oil and gas infrastructure presence by acquiring Synergy is the most recent effort Volatus has made to expand its increasingly sophisticated range of drone activities. 

In August it received a special certificate by regulator Transport Canada to operate beyond visual line of sight missions without a flight observer. That flowed directly from the introduction in June of its automated Aerieport nested UAV platform. It also recently got the all-clear from regulators to remotely operate drone flights necessary for work in Las Vegas from its Canadian control center 3,000 kilometers away.

Adding Synergy to its blend of operations, says Volatus CEO Glen Lynch, will add further momentum to the company’s push to expand services it provides with the mission, data, and cost effectiveness that drones afford.

“Leveraging Synergy’s oil and gas presence combined with our existing pipeline operations in Ontario will allow us to introduce the power of innovative drone solutions to meet regulatory compliance and asset management requirements with improved efficiencies and a material reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” Lynch said.

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