How To Proactively Detect Hazardous Changes Along Your Pipeline Right-of-Way

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) reports that pipeline damage caused by excavation, natural forces, and other factors costs over $100 million (2019). 

SkyX has a transformative vision for aerial data and the technology to manifest that vision—in a way that saves the industry hundreds of millions of dollars and dramatically improves asset protection,” says Jacob “Koby” Shavit, Chairman of the SkyX Board of Directors.

But there’s more to the story than financial costs. Undetected pipeline incidents that result from this damage can be hazardous to humans, animals, and the environment. 

It comes as no surprise that an increasing number of Oil and Gas companies around the world are looking for innovative ways to better monitor and address problems along their pipelines. Many of these companies are looking to aerial data solutions because the right aerial data solution can help detect and monitor changes along a pipeline Right of Way (ROW) better than any other inspection method. 

How to change detection using aerial data works

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) capture high-resolution images from above a pipeline on an ongoing basis. These images are then processed and analyzed by purpose-built software with built-in capabilities to generate visual models of a pipeline RoW. As data is collected and compared over time, changes in vegetation and human activity along the pipeline are identified and tracked. The asset owner uses this intelligence to take appropriate action – whether that’s continuing to monitor changes or sending ground crews to specific locations where potential issues are observed. 

Why common inspection methods fall short when it comes to detecting changes

Identifying, visualizing, and comparing critical changes over time to the same level of precision or accuracy as aerial data is virtually impossible by other pipeline inspection methods that are commonly used today, like monthly ground inspections or flyovers using manned aircraft. Manned aircraft simply can’t fly close enough to the RoW and human eyes become fatigued and acclimated, making minute changes difficult to detect.

These traditional inspection methods leave asset operators scurrying to respond to ambiguous warnings about possible issues. When using data gathered from aerial technology and comparing it over time, Oil and Gas companies have accurate data to inform decisions and actions.

Aerial data can detect different types of changes along a pipeline RoW

With aerial data, it is possible to uncover new insights to address key safety hazards on the right of way (ROW), and eventually (after doing ongoing monitoring to gather data for a long enough period of time) build the predictive analytics necessary to foresee incidents before they occur. 

Here’s a look at some of the different types of changes SkyX Oil and Gas customers are monitoring using the system. 

1. Pipeline Failures and Spills

Aerial data compared over time can show pipeline failure indications. Oil puddles, gas plumes, discoloured ground, and dying vegetation are indications.

2. Unauthorized Third-Party Activity and Theft

With a frequently flying autonomous UAV and object detection and classification algorithms, companies can detect signs of third-party activity like construction, trespassing, and even theft early, before damage is done.

Start preventing changes rather than reacting to them

Using this data to detect changes along your RoW and predict future issues is the best way to improve pipeline integrity and safety. 

Learn how to get started with an aerial data solution.

Talk to our team today!