Pipelines often cover thousands of kilometres across remote areas, and ensuring the long-term safety of a pipeline is paramount in the routing selection process. The most devastating impact on pipeline operations is a rupture caused by unstable terrain or geological hazards, which in some areas are widespread phenomena influenced by geological and environmental conditions that involve both long-term and short-term processes.
Understanding the dynamic forces with a potential to impact a pipeline demands accurate information to support enhanced route planning, design, management, operation, and maintenance of pipeline systems. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and optical satellite remote sensing imagery, integrated with GIS, represents a suite of technologies to support effective pipeline routing and lifecycle risk mitigation.
No single routing process is applicable for all pipelines because different factors have to be considered for each project, such as pipeline size, material, location, land use, crossings required, land ownership, terrain, infrastructure, local permits and regulations, environmental and archeology. The final route selected must be safe, environmentally compliant, sustainable, economical, and practical. Access to current, valid geospatial information is a critical component in achieving all of those goals, and obtaining approvals to start construction.
Terrain evaluation provides in-depth understanding of the ground conditions and potential hazards to which an onshore pipeline or development may be subjected. MDA provides key geospatial inputs to the route selection process that include the identification and assessment of geotechnical, hydrological and other risks present within the pipeline corridor. This analysis fuses current ground conditions with historical activity and change assessment to better inform decision makers and help reduce overall pipeline risk during operations. Additionally, satellite imagery and target identification analysis can detect unauthorized intrusion onto pipeline rights of way in remote areas that are typically difficult, if not impossible, to monitor on a regular basis.