Oil Spill Detection

Valuable Information to Protect Our Environment

Airbus Defence and Space’s Oil Spill Detection Service effectively supports public authorities in charge of prevention and prosecution of oil pollution, as well as monitoring of platform and pipeline operations for oil and gas companies.

Oil Spill Detection after a tanker accident in the Straight of Kerch, Ukraine, based on TerraSAR-X StripMap data

Oil Spill Detection after a tanker accident in the Straight of Kerch, Ukraine, based on TerraSAR-X StripMap data

Oil pollution on the ocean surface can result from non-accidental discharges (incidental losses from vessels, tank flushing, natural seepage) or accidental leakage from damaged ships or offshore installations.

While the former are usually small in extent, they account for a large portion of the overall amount of oil introduced into the marine environment, while the latter are much less frequent but typically involve larger release volumes. In both cases, oil spills are a major threat to the environment and sensitive marine ecosystems.

Rapid detection and effective emergency response actions are therefore needed to identify, contain and recover spilled oil.

Reliable Detection and Monitoring of Oil Pollution

Oil pollution analysis based on TerraSAR-X data

Oil pollution analysis based on TerraSAR-X data

Airbus Defence and Space’s Oil Spill Detection Service provides detailed information on location and size of even small oil films. Relying on the company’s unique access to optical and radar satellite imagery, an experienced team of image analysts derives detailed data on the exact position, extent, shape and drift of the oil slick. This can additionally be correlated with the location of oil/gas platforms.

Radar satellite imagery  is particularly well suited to detect accidental or illegal leakages, as the smooth texture of an oil film on the sea surface reduces the radar backscatter to the satellite and appears as a dark area in the SAR image. The wide-area coverage and all-weather, day/night acquisition capability combined with high spatial and temporal resolution provide users with reliable and timely information.

Key Benefits
  • Detection of small oil spills
  • Detailed information on oil spill location, size, shape and drift, as well as oil/gas platform location
  • Incorporation of Ship Detection & Tracking and Sea Ice Information possible

The Oil Spill Detection Service is enhanced by ship detection and tracking information,  facilitating identification and monitoring of potential polluters for prosecution. Furthermore, the service can be complemented with additional sea ice monitoring information.

Oil Spill Detection

Did you know?

Airbus Defence and Space’s Global Seeps  Database provides a non-exclusive database of offshore oil slicks. Over 13,000 archive and tasked satellite images have been interpreted by Airbus Defence and Space’s experts for the purpose of mapping natural oil slicks. The database covers 60 million sq.km of offshore basins and is continuously updated.