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Resolution Satellite Imagery Corridor Monitoring & Planning

Dewey W. Marino, Environmental Geologist, Space Imaging EOSAT, Thornton, Co.

Most product pipelines and their manager's are faced with the continual threat that encroachment poses on their right-of-ways. Whether it be the construction of new roads, illegal transportation along the corridor or residential development in the adjacent lands, minimizing the impact and keeping the product flowing is essential. Exhaustive efforts by ground crews can mitigate encroachment, but only after a considerable effort and expenditure has been made to decide where to act and how to quantify the problem on site.

Failure to keep up with environmental pressures on the corridor can result not only in a rupture of the line, but can also cause a loss of permits and fines for noncompliance. As the population in adjacent communities grows, so does encroachment. Monitoring population fluctuations must be done continually in order to optimize pressure in the line while minimizing risks. In short, keeping abreast of developments on and around corridors must be done to save money and keep the operation safe.

The need for spatial information to address these issues has been identified by Space Imaging EOSAT which has developed a tool that allows monitoring of any remote site directly from the desktop. This will be accomplished in part through the launch of the world's first one-meter resolution imaging satellite capable of collecting high-resolution images on a global basis. Scheduled to launch this summer, the satellite, named IKONOS 1, will collect one-meter panchromatic (black and white) imagery simultaneously with four, four-meter multispectral (color) bands. From this imagery, information which affects the operations of a pipeline corridor will be made available to assist in minimizing the risks of encroachment, planning new right-of-ways, as well as meeting permitting requirements for any location in the world.

Inherent in the capabilities of IKONOS is the ability to derive digital terrain models directly from the imagery. This allows the analyst to drape the imagery and interpretations on top of a three-dimensional model and perform quality planning engineering of the new corridor at a fraction of tile cost of mobilizing survey teams to pick the location of the new corridor. With 10-meter elevation posting, this digital terrain model can reveal least-cost routes for the corridor and can be used for planning bridges at stream crossings as well as slope and elevation calculations for the length of the pipeline. This information is derived from the base image which utilizes both spatial and spectral data for feature extraction.

Multispectral data collected from the sensor is information-rich and can reveal subtle interactions in the environment that are unobservable to the naked eye. Experienced image processors and proprietary algorithms can make this information useful for visualizing disturbed areas along corridors such as unimproved roads as well as vegetation that is being stressed by the contents of the pipeline. Other information, such as the location of individual residences, presence of illegal roads, surface permeability, trenching activities by farmers, unauthorized construction which may be associated with product theft as well as politically induced terrorist infiltration of the corridor can all be gleaned from high-resolution space-based imagery.

This information can greatly improve the timeliness and accuracy of performing urban density appraisals to reduce the potential of having to retrofit pipelines to comply with pressure regulations. The advantages of using this information are significant when the cost of performing ground-based surveys is compared with the quality of digital information and level of detail delivered directly to your desktop.

A semi-automated process of extracting features from the imagery, coupled with manual feature identification, can be implemented to provide information to the user in a cost-effective, timely manner. By following a method of mapping how the land is used with the type of land cover present on site, much of the information in the image can be quickly evaluated. This information is used to construct an extensive map of the region by classifying features related to constructing, operating and maintaining the corridor.

Often, the interpretation is presented to the user in a digital vector format along with a report quantifying the features found on site without the risks of mobilization. Work can be performed for any size area including whole counties, digital 7.5-minute quadrangles or by the square mile. Flexibility in purchasing imagery promotes studies ranging from a buffer zone on either side of an existing corridor to regional mapping for evaluating the best location of a new one.
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Article Details
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Author:Marino, Dewey W.
Publication:Pipeline & Gas Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 1998
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