TGS’ pipelines cover a large portion of Argentina’s extensive territory. Due to the security risks that this implies, a security zone has been established along the length of the underground pipeline. In this zone, constructing buildings for human occupancy is prohibited. In order to ensure that these areas are kept free of intrusion, the company regularly contracts satellite photography services for rural areas, and photos taken from a plane or helicopter for urban areas. This service includes the delivery of a mosaic of orthorectified images that indicate any structures intended for human occupancy.
The most efficient solution
The company decided to carry out a pilot project to test and evaluate the efficiency of drones in photographic analysis of the pipelines. “We selected an enclosed, 15-kilometer area in a semi-urban zone,” explained Mauricio Sansano, head of the energy division at Practia. “The results were overwhelming: the drone offered unbeatable image quality at a much lower cost than any other alternative.” TGS recognized the value of this new technology for detecting possible intrusions along the route of their pipelines.
Today, the company has already implemented drone monitoring along nearly 200 kilometers (124 miles) of pipeline throughout various regions of Argentina. “These are just our first steps, but we’re convinced that we’re on the right track and that soon enough this will be a common practice in our industry and others,” says Daniel Fiducia, CIO of TGS. “This change adds a great deal of value to our pipeline operations,” he adds. After a drone delivers the images of an area, a software program analyzes them and automatically identifies any anomalies, minimizing processing time and improving the quality of the information provided.
In addition to photographic analysis, TGS needed to identify and locate any structures for human occupancy along the length of its pipelines. This solution makes it possible to identify each one of these photographed structures and distinguish between homes, sheds, and schools, for example. This identification is performed by a recognition software capable of analyzing images and analyzing the occupancy status of each structure.