How To Get the Data You Need to Proactively Maintain Your Pipeline Right-Of-Way

pipeline right-of-way monitoring

Having a clear pipeline Right-of-Way (ROW) is important. Intrusions can cause damage to infrastructure, interfere with crew maintenance efforts, and cause disruptions to nearby landowners and the public at large. Unfortunately, current methods for ROW monitoring aren’t giving pipeline operators the data they need to identify potential problems before they become critical maintenance or environmental issues. As a result, they’re making reactive decisions.

Taking a proactive approach to pipeline integrity allows you to better understand the issues occurring on your right-of-way, prevent critical issues, and provide maintenance teams with complete and accurate information.

Shifting from reactive to proactive maintenance requires predictive analytics.

Predictive Analytics for a Clear Right-of-Way

Here are common intrusions in a right-of-way and how predictive analytics can help address them:

  • Vegetation encroachment: Think of a tree as a long, drawn-out explosion that is slowly making its way into your ROW and toward your pipeline. It only takes one root to jumpstart a serious incident. With consistent imagery from inspection to inspection, a predictive analytics model could track the gradual growth of vegetation and flag it before it becomes a red-flag maintenance issue.
  • Erosion, cracks, and ground depressions: Ground deformations cause serious damage to Oil and Gas pipelines, making them high priorities for pipeline integrity management. Geological anomalies of this nature are difficult to spot via manual inspection, one of our clients – a pipeline operator in Mexico – wasn’t catching these issues during their routine ground inspections along the pipeline. Our aerial system and machine-learning analysis were able to detect cracks forming in the seismically active ground.
  • Unauthorized human activity: Effectively tackling human entry into a restricted right-of-way area is about finding hotspots of activity that indicate easy access to the pipeline. With the ability to detect anomalies such as footprints and vehicle tracks, and a log of consistent datasets for comparison, computer vision software can identify common areas of unauthorized human activity that should be addressed.
  • Construction and development: Construction sites are easy to spot, but their gradual expansion into your right of way might not be. Not to mention, wayward excavation and backfill can remain well-hidden amongst the surrounding terrain. The subtle changes in the landscape and gradual growth of work sites are something predictive analytics are well-suited for measuring. In Alberta, we identified improper construction backfill from the previous summer, which was concealed by heavy snowfall at the time of inspection. The client, a pipeline operator, was able to get in touch with the construction company and have the issue rectified.

The Path to Predictive Analytics

Regularly scheduled inspections, consistent high-resolution imagery, and high-quality data – these are the cornerstones of an effective, proactive ROW monitoring operation and the path to unlocking the full value of predictive analytics.

It starts with building a baseline set of data with an initial inspection. By following-up with subsequent inspections on a routine basis, you can gather the necessary datasets you need to track changes on your ROW.

To perform this kind of analysis, you need to be working with consistent and highly-precise imagery that doesn’t radically deviate from one inspection to the next.

An automated system can effectively analyze the subtle changes between new and historical data, notifying you of trends and potential problems.

Improving the maintenance of your right-of-way requires a shift from reactive to proactive management. Through regularly scheduled aerial inspections, consistent high-resolution imagery, and high-quality data – you can unlock the predictive analytics that drive this paradigm shift. Aerial systems are ideal for meeting these requirements, which will empower you to better identify and address subtle anomalies and progressing issues along your ROW.

Want to improve the quality of your right-of-way monitoring program?

Contact our team to discuss your unique challenges and technical requirements.