Oil and gas pipeline right-of-ways (ROWs) are routinely monitored by means of aerial or ground-based surveillance methods. The frequency of ROW surveillance depends on different factors, such as regulatory requirements, level of anthropogenic activities and varying environmental conditions. This investigation examined the capabilities of new optical satellite constellations and innovative processing algorithms to establish a satellite-based monitoring solution. Depending on the application, satellite-based surveillance can provide complementary information or offer an affordable alternative to conventional ROW monitoring approaches.
Due to the potentially large volumes of data involved in monitoring extensive ROW segments, emphasis was placed on developing and implementing largely automated algorithms. Using study areas in Canada and the continental US, encroachment events and changes in the surface conditions were detected on or near the ROW. Very-high-resolution (VHR) optical imagery collected by several missions including WorldView-3 and GeoEye-1 was used to estimate population density in high-consequence areas and detect indicators of third-party interventions. Medium-resolution imagery acquired by various satellites (Landsat-8, Sentinel-2, Planet Labs, RapidEye) was analyzed to identify major land cover changes, such as flooding and deforestation near pipeline corridors.
The principal benefits of the presented developments include increased spatial and temporal coverage, increased amount of relevant information provided, spatial and temporal characterization of detected incidents, improved systematic monitoring and reduced false alarms. In addition, ongoing satellite monitoring builds up a data archive well suited for exploitation by multiple users within pipeline operator organizations.