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Pipeline networks, such as those used to transport oil and gas, often span hundreds or thousands of kilometers. Pipelines are used to transport crude oil from drill sites to refineries. Once refined, pipelines are used to move fuel to airports, urban areas, and factories.

Linear infrastructure such as pipelines must be closely monitored for protection against geohazards and ground displacement. Potential damage to lines may come from landslides, ground settlement, freeze/thaw permafrost, urban development, vegetation, and more. Cost-effective mitigation of potential damage relies on detecting and monitoring displacement.

InSAR can cover thousands of square kilometers in a single footprint and can precisely detect precursory or subtle changes to the structure, foundation, or surrounding landscape with repeatable measurements. By using more than one footprint, InSAR can cover entire networks and detect many thousands of potential hazards to a pipeline network at millimetre-to centimetre-level precision. InSAR also has an extensive archive of historical imagery which can be used to provide historical displacement results economically before the implementation of an ongoing monitoring solution.

Traditionally, monitoring of risks was mostly performed with ground-based systems such as extensometers, inclinometers, surveying, and field visual inspections. While these methods of displacement monitoring are accurate, they cannot cost-effectively cover entire networks.

While LiDAR and photography from aircraft, whether piloted or autonomous, can cover larger areas, these become prohibitively expensive if entire networks need to be revisited more than a few times per year. LiDAR and visual inspection also lack the precision necessary to detect subtle ground changes such as slope creep.

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Monitoring Pipelines using InSAR

InSAR offers the only precise, large-scale, and cost-effective solution for monitoring pipeline assets remotely. 3vG boasts unmatched relationships with satellite operators that specialize in vegetation-specific data sources and algorithms that mitigate the effect of varied terrain and vegetation growth. InSAR can complement in-ground monitoring strategies by providing early risk detection of potential hazards, which allows consultants and engineers to effectively position monitoring assets.

Techniques like aerial surveying and LiDAR, whether visual, by UAV, or even using optical satellite data, are limited by weather conditions, cloud coverage, and vegetation. In-situ equipment such as extensometers, surveying, or GPS monitoring only provides results at the installation location and can be prohibitively expensive to cover entire networks.

Pipeline damage poses risks to the environment and safety

Until now, monitoring pipeline networks has been challenging due to the varied terrain, topography, ground cover, and distance that these networks traverse. Damage to pipelines can harm the environment and impact human safety.

3vG works with pipeline integrity management and geotechnical engineers to mitigate these risks by using InSAR to detect unknown geohazards and to monitor known risks along pipeline rights-of-way. InSAR monitoring is not limited by weather conditions or daylight hours. Permits and ROW access are not necessary to conduct InSAR measurements.

3vG has developed tools to easily identify and alert hazard management teams as early as possible when risks develop. 3vG’s Displacement DataStream offers a turnaround of just 24 hours after the data is made available, leading to the fastest InSAR detection time in the industry. Paired with wide area coverage, displacement monitoring can be applied to the entire pipeline operation, as well as provide suitability analysis for new lines, facilities, and well sites.

Benefits of using 3vG for Pipeline Monitoring

3vG’s InSAR technology is regularly used to identify displacement as early as possible to allow pipeline projects to respond and mitigate any risks associated with construction and ongoing operation. Our wide area coverage, frequent repeat, and algorithms designed specifically for pipeline networks provide high precision monitoring. These factors support advancements in risk detection such as determining the direction of displacement, identifying areas of acceleration, and highlighting areas of real displacement over satellite signal noise. In addition, InSAR results can be buffered based on pipeline centerlines to provide a more focused view of results, leading to better data analysis by pipeline engineers.

InSAR data quality varies over time and spatially within individual images due to factors such as ground conditions and atmospheric activity. Sometimes very subtle displacement estimates are possible (2 mm or less) and 3vG has developed the means to report any statistically significant displacement, regardless of its magnitude. In contrast, more standard approaches use simple thresholding to visualize displacement areas resulting in false positives and undetected risks. For distribution pipelines that neighbour populated areas, where the consequences of failure are high, better data leads to better decision-making.

Slope movement, geohazards, and landslides can all be present along a pipeline’s ROW. 3vG’s Displacement DataStream and Motionary platform provide the state of activity in near-real-time so that you can respond quickly and effectively.

What is InSAR?

Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) is a satellite remote sensing technology used for mapping ground displacement across a number of sectors.

Discover the benefits of using InSAR and learn more about this fascinating technology and how it can be applied to your next project by clicking the button below.

Learn More
  • An overview of the technology
  • Benefits of using InSAR
  • Available Satellite Options
  • How 3vG can help
  • What you will get
We are very impressed with this data. We realized that we have problems right now in several areas caused by rain. We saw them shown in red on the map.”
Municipality of La Paz

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