ImagineGEO talks to… Peter Collinson, BP

Peter Collinson
Satellite technology has revolutionised the way in which many of us go about our daily lives. This is how Dr. Peter Collinson, Global Environmental Response Expert at BP, thinks about the increasingly important role of using satellite imagery for successful business.

1. Can you present your company in a few words, and can you tell us what your role is?

BP is one of the world's largest oil and gas companies, serving millions of customers every day in around 80 countries, and employing around 85,000 people. BP’s business segments are Upstream (oil and gas exploration & production), Downstream (refining & marketing) and Other Business and Corporate (OB&C) which includes Biofuels, Shipping and Trading. Through these activities, BP provides fuel for transportation, energy for heat and light, services for motorists, and petrochemicals products for plastics, textiles and food packaging.
About me: I am responsible for Global Environmental response issues at BP, including policy development of oil spill response and preparedness at the corporate level and the assessing role of technology in the environmental discipline. This means I am specialised in oil spill response, including subsea dispersant injection strategies, environmental risk, environmental baselines, corporate crisis management and technology.

2. How long has BP been working with Airbus Defence and Space? Why did you decide to work with us?

BP has a very long heritage of working with Airbus Defence and Space traditionally. We have been using Airbus Defence and Space for decades actually acquiring satellite imagery for oil exploration, engineering survey design and major projects around the world. My work with Airbus Defence and Space has been linked to Environmental Sensitivity Mapping activity and the use of new technology for environmental, operational and crisis applications. Sensitivity mapping helps us to identify the various types of habitats, resources and communities that could be affected by oil spills and develop appropriate response strategies. Airbus Defence and Space is an expanding business with incredible capabilities in many different areas – which is similar to BP, in a way. I believe we can further develop a very effective and powerful working relationship. It’s great fun working with you - a super team with excellent knowledge and enthusiasm!

3. Can you give us examples of purposes for what BP is using satellite imagery?

Our requirements for oil spill preparedness and response planning, and crisis management, incorporate what we have learned over many years of operation. We are making considerable advances in the way we identify, assess and manage our oil spill risks. This includes the use of new tools for environmental monitoring providing information on coastlines that could potentially be affected by a spill, collected via satellites and helicopter and ground surveys. This is available for use by BP operations around the world and helps us set priorities for oil spill planning and response. Change Detection is another example. Using a mix of optical and radar satellite imagery  from Airbus Defence and Space to monitor oil fields, BP is able to track its assets, monitor its environmental change, it’s land use change, and assess security risks down to an extraordinary level of detail.

Satellite technology has revolutionised the way in which many of us go about our daily lives. For me one of the objectives is to enable a wider range of BP users who are not familiar with using satellite data before, and see that high frequency imagery coupled with change detection analysis can be used by them as an operational tool to help them with their decision making on a daily or weekly basis.



Top image : Oil slick identification with Pléiades
Middle image : Oil slick identification with SPOT
Bottom image : Deepwater Horizon oil spill (Gulf of Mexico) visible as “dark” feature on sea surface in TerraSAR-X ScanSAR imagery

4. Does the result of working with Airbus Defence and Space meet your expectations?

Yes, absolutely! We have operations people, security people, environmental people, social responsibility people and it helped inform them by visualising change on the ground. This potentially provides them a greater insight of managing the risks – both threats and opportunities. Traditionally, the use of satellite imagery has been reserved for small pockets of engineers and surveyors. I think that we are now finding new communities using satellite imagery in new ways, using new products.

5. Are there any other products or services from Airbus Defence and Space you are interested in or working with?

We use and are interested in many products. We are using a lot of products from the Geo-Intelligence sector, especially satellite imagery for exploration projects and the data services. Besides we had discussions about the HAPS (High Altitude Pseudo Satellites), and the new emissions monitoring satellites, Tropomi.

6. Do you know our Instant Tasking Service?

Yes, I am familiar with it - and used it. It works! The Instant Tasking Service provides very good resolution, very quickly, to assist with rapid decision making. It is an impressive turnaround time. From my crisis perspective I would use Instant Tasking as matter of first response.

7. How do you see the industry evolving? What are the current trends?

Regional variations in the nature, availability, quality and location of natural resources – as well as the priorities of policy-makers - present very different challenges and opportunities for technology to unlock and convert resources to meet demand. Operating costs are a big issue in the new cost constrained Oil and Gas sector. We have to use technologies to reduce the costs and increase the efficiency of our business. In future, the amount of data we collect will increase to an incredible extent, so the ability to have software systems, machine learning systems, that can help interpret the change that matters to us will be an important tool for the future.