Airborne and spaceborne radar remote sensing means are used in an operational context for oil slicks detection. Indeed, the oil layer above the surface of the sea will dampen the so-called "capillarity waves" which are the origin of the sea surface roughness. The objective of this paper is to present remote sensing technologies and methodologies developed within Total to detect and cope with oil slicks issues in the off shore domain, in collaboration with ONERA The works realized in this domain will be presented through ‘field cases’ as well as R&D results, related to the emergence of new techniques, made in collaboration with the ONERA. We work in particular on the evaluation of the most relevant polarimetric parameters for slicks detection and characterization. We are also interested in the use of the various radar frequencies (X, L Bands…) for the detection, characterization and the estimation of relative thickness. Finally, in case of significant leakage, we will present ‘Spill Watch’, the internal procedure, activated to follow and to predict oil slick drift to determine areas where antipollution teams must intervene.

The availability of numerous data images, in particular ESA Sentinel-1 A and Sentinel 1-B satellite data, free access data, open new perspectives in the monitoring field.

The need for the oversight of our operations and the surveillance of our installations can be now covered with an important repetitiveness thanks to the high frequency of acquisitions of this new type of data as a complement to commercial data (Cosmo SkyMed, Radarsat, TerraSarX…) programmed and acquired by SAR operators. Today, the possibility of daily satellite acquisition in any defined area of the world thanks to satellite constellations, allows to set up a systematic oil production facilities monitoring for:

  • Detecting hydrocarbon leaks and their recurrence (rejecting look alike such as algal blooming wind and current effects…)

  • Locate the source of the slick relative to the location of O&G infrastructures

  • Identify and discriminate possible origins of the slicks : natural seeps, spill linked to oil facilities, boat emptying of fuel tanks

  • Evaluate leak magnitude and their evolution with time (drifting)

The teams need constant refinement of these tools because of the importance of the issue and the support for Environment and Exploration domains [1]. A major research program has been initiated to improved reliability of detection methods, discrimination and why not quantification… of oil slicks including SAR and optical technologies, calibration on real data and software development.

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