Welcome to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also described as the Experience Era, ‘where lines between the digital and physical are increasingly blurred.’ With new technology advancements happening continually and commercial access to space becoming an economic reality, we are just beginning to see how customized satellite operations will improve asset stewardship in ways still evolving, as customization of technology deployed into orbit pushes the bounds of how we receive and process information.
Hyperspectral imagery (HSI) is a technology that began in the 1980s and is now becoming commercially available by microsatellite. With applications specific to oil and gas operators, and pipeline operations in particular, HSI is poised to enable unparalleled daily global pipeline leak prevention, detection and speciation, intrusion and change detection capabilities. This will replace conventional regulatory requirements for pipeline patrol while contributing to our ability to early detect and better understand vapor emissions. This paper discusses the evolving space marketplace and the state-of-the-art for HSI, including current examples of hyperspectral findings regarding pipeline leaks and encroachment threats.
Successful deployment of HSI will drive a decrease in the number and magnitude of pipeline leaks using frequent, global, high-resolution data collection, rapid and reliable analysis, and immediate reporting of actionable information.
For decades, satellite-based HSI technology has offered a promise of remote detection of hydrocarbons and other disturbances. It is finally becoming scalable, accessible to, and cost-effective for the pipeline industry, and thus a reality for cost-effective pipeline stewardship.