The oil and gas complex is the complicated and multi-level system of interaction between various types of human activities. It seems that the difficulties can only be related to the extraction of natural resources, but the transportation of gas and oil products is no less important and integral process of the oil and gas complex, since in order to seize from the benefits of hydrocarbon fuel, products must first be delivered to the places of processing and final use.

Currently, oil and gas transportation is carried out in various ways, including by rail and water transport. But the pipeline is still the most profitable, safe and environmentally friendly solution.

There are two main types of pipelines depending on the length and the tasks to be solved:

1)     Trunk pipelines transport oil and petroleum products for tens of thousands of kilometers both across Russia and abroad. Delivery takes place from the production or production sites to the final points, industrial enterprises for additional processing of oil, or to transport hubs.

2)     Field pipelines are used for transporting oil from the production site to the main storage site.

Trunk pipeline transport

Trunk pipeline transport plays important role in the fuel and energy complex (FEC) and has great importance for the economic condition of the state. Our country has created an extensive network of oil trunk pipelines with a total length of more than 72 thousand km, which run through the territory of most of the Russian Federation's regions. They transport about 90% of the oil produced in the country.

For high-quality operation of any system, the pipeline is no exception, you need constant monitoring of serviceability and integrity. The huge length and laying in different climatic zones and in remote places make it much more difficult to maintain and control the condition of pipelines. That is why, in order to avoid economic losses, accidents, and problems, it is necessary to use methods of remote monitoring of the condition of pipelines.

The reasons for problems with the pipeline can be both internal and external. To prevent and eliminate internal problems, special equipment and chemicals are used: certain pressure sensors, anti-corrosion additives, as well as infrasound monitoring systems. External factors that affect the integrity of pipelines must be monitored remotely. For the safety of pipelines, diversion zones (50 m) and protection zones (up to 500 m) were allocated. Any activity, such as unauthorized logging, mining, or even construction, is prohibited in the pipeline diversion zones. Along the pipeline route, authorized logging is carried out in forest areas so that trees cannot fall and damage it. The safety and integrity of the diversion zones is as important as the safety of the pipeline itself, because "it is easier to prevent than to fix".

Remote monitoring of pipeline condition

Remote monitoring of pipeline condition is currently carried out by manned aircraft (helicopter and airplane) and vehicles with high cross-country traffic. These traditional methods are not only labor-intensive, but also very expensive. They were replaced by more cost-effective methods of remote monitoring-unmanned systems and satellite imagery. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have certain advantages in terms of ultra-high spatial resolution, but their use still requires direct travel of specialists to the area, which entails additional costs. In addition, drones are not yet suitable for long-term use in severe cold conditions, so the operator sometimes has to personally be in harsh conditions. When using space monitoring of pipelines, you only need to have access to a computer. Satellite imagery is the cheapest, and the quality of data is slightly inferior to images from most unmanned systems (30 cm vs. 20 cm). Figure 1 shows the cost of one hour of pipeline monitoring by various means.

Fig. 1 - Cost of operation of various pipeline monitoring tools for 1 hour

Satellite imagery has several other advantages over UAVs:

1)     Legal framework. To start shooting with a UAV, you need to get several permits from government agencies, and this can take several months, depending on the territory. This is related to the use of the country's airspace and flight regulation. In addition, each drone must be registered without fail. All this has a very strong impact on the time of completion of work. And after the shooting is complete, it must be declassified by special authorities, because any image obtained from the air is automatically classified as "secret". Space imagery, in contrast to UAV shooting, does not require approvals from the authorities and additional permissions, and the data obtained is not secret. This significantly reduces the duration of work and reduces its cost.

2)     The speed of getting materials. The most modern and powerful drone can shoot about 100 km of territory in one flight. At the same time, the image from the spacecraft taken in one flight covers an area of up to 600 km.

3)     The speed of image processing. The size of the satellite image is significantly larger than the size of the UAV image (5-40 times). This facilitates and speeds up the initial processing of data in terms of cross-linking images, color and orthocorrection. Also, most programs for spatial data processing are adapted exclusively for space photography, which causes additional costs when using data from UAVs.

Why it is necessary to regularly monitor the condition of pipelines

One of the most important reasons why it is necessary to regularly monitor the condition of pipelines and diversion zones is to preserve the environmental well-being of the area through which the pipeline passes. The state is gradually increasing the penalties for causing environmental damage, increasing fines and introducing various additional sanctions (figures 2, 3). In particular, in 2007, the principle of so-called multiple losses was introduced, in which fines for violation of forest legislation and damage to the soil are calculated based on four times the value of the forest-forming rock.

Fig. 2 - Search for illegal activity near the pipeline

Recent government orders require oil and gas companies to submit programs for the reconstruction of in-field pipelines to the government Commission on the fuel and energy sector. Back in 2016, several inspection agencies compiled the most complete list of contaminated land, using space survey data. At the same time, the Ministry of natural resources of Russia supports a hundredfold increase in fines for concealing oil spills, being unprepared for their elimination or providing incomplete information about the contaminated territory. The near-infrared (NIR) and short-wave infrared (SWIR) ranges of satellite imagery are used to detect polluted areas and damaged vegetation.

Fig. 3 - Example of monitoring the condition of drainage zones along the pipeline

Satellite imagery, together with the latest advances in information technology, can significantly speed up monitoring of pipelines and protected areas by providing deep training in the classification of satellite images. By running the algorithm for processing satellite images, a GIS specialist can examine and record extraneous objects, violations of the diversion zones, and oil pollution ten times faster than with classical visual decoding. The only difficulty with automated decryption is the accumulation of territory patterns. But companies with experience in processing satellite images have a significant base of standards, which allows you to start work on the survey immediately. Also, the use of multi-time images allows you to monitor changes in the area, automatically recording all changes in the territory-from deforestation to the construction of objects.

The world's leading companies in the space industry, such as Maxar Technologies Inc (ex. DigitalGlobe), developed geoportals for automated processing of space imagery, its decryption and search for objects. For example, the company's product Maxar GBDX (Geospatial Big Data) allows you to use a long-term accumulated archive of satellite images with the highest spatial resolution and previously developed algorithms for decrypting images from the best it companies in the world. The program runs on Amazon servers, which allows hundreds of times faster processing of huge amounts of remote sensing Data.

To conduct operational monitoring of the main pipeline and drainage areas, as well as environmental impact assessment, please contact Innoter by phone +7 495 245-04-24 or send a request by e-mail innoter@innoter.com. Many years of experience in using satellite imagery in the oil and gas industry will allow you to solve your tasks quickly and efficiently.

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