In Europe the largest cause for failures of transmission gas pipelines are Third Party Interferences (TPI). Currently inspections of pipelines are performed by helicopters, cars and walking along the pipeline route. Recently other systems are introduced which detect possible threats by e.g. sensing pipelines via fibre-optic cables or with acoustic sensors. To these surveying methods for detection of TPI we add surveillance by EO/SAR (Earth Observation/ Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellites with high revisit frequencies. By integrating space based technologies with terrestrial systems we aim (i) to improve regularity and effectiveness of inspection operations, (ii) to increase safety and (iii) to eventually reduce costs for pipeline operators. This is realised by providing a system delivering the following integrated services:
1. Detection of TPI, which mostly are threats related to excavation / construction activities and building of settlements near pipelines. These activities are detected through change detection techniques applied to successive EO/SAR satellite images. The system also allows to correlate detected changes via satellites with known third party activities, helicopter reports and results of other surveying methods.
2. Measuring ground elevation movements which are related to erosion, subsidence, and early detection of landslides and sink holes. Monitoring will be performed through Permanent Scatterer Interferometry (InSAR) techniques applied to a stack of EO/SAR satellite images. InSAR techniques can accurately measure slow varying movements with an accuracy of millimetres per year.
3. Guidance via a tablet computer of field operators to the exact field location where threats have been identified and enabling them to record visual evidences (photo’s, reports). The exact location of the recordings of visual evidences will be geo-tagged and transmitted in real-time to the central system.
4. Monitoring pipeline health status of the pipeline by measuring in-situ sensors installed along the pipeline infrastructure.
In this paper we focus on results of our technology for detecting TPI based on real life experiments with EO/SAR satellites.