To counteract the problems of pipeline route planning researchers have begun working with satellite imaging technology. Daniel Garrun spoke to Michael Hall, senior geologist at Airbus Defence and Space, to find out more.
Can you explain what kind of data you are looking for?
The Airbus Defence and Space satellite constellation offers a range of imagery datasets and derived products, together with related consultancy services. Satellite methods allow rapid information collection in often remote areas to make intelligence driven planning decisions, supporting targeted field data collection to specific areas of interest.
Offshore in the nearshore environment (up to 30m water depth and clear water) optical data can be used to produce bathymetric maps for planning, based on correlation techniques with known depth points and for sea bed habitat mapping for environmental impact assessment.
Nearshore environments can be particularly sensitive to environmental disturbance, so an understanding of the habitat type and distribution can be used to minimise these impacts. Understanding sea bed characteristics both in terns of depth variation and the nature of the sea bed (distribution of rock, sand etc) is also important to optimise pipeline routes.
In deeper water offshore, the contribution here would be more in terms of monitoring for any sea surface expression of oil leaks using radar data after pipeline construction. The database could also be applicable to provide a baseline of natural oil seeps prior to construction…