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Results of Oil Pollution Satellite Monitoring in the Sea of Okhotsk

Russia – Upon request of “Kamchatneftegaz” in June-August 2008 ScanEx RDC in association with P. P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IO RAS) completed the project on satellite pollution monitoring in the northern part of the Sea of Okhotsk.

The project was implemented for the purposes of evaluating natural and anthropogenic pollution in the offshore area of the Sea of Okhotsk, identifying its sources, prompt notifications to the requestor on oil and petroleum products pollution of the sea area to mitigate risks for the environment of the Sea of Okhotsk.

Radar imagery of the Sea of Okhotsk water area was provided by RADARSAT-1(Canada) and ENVISAT-1 (European Space Agency) satellites, which transmitted imagery in real time to the receiving station of ScanEx RDC in Magadan. Operators of Moscow Center of ScanEx RDC exercised interactive remote control mode of receiving hardware and initial data processing. Later the Center specialists carried out thematic processing, detection of oil pollution and vessels, generation of end products in the form of slick and shipping situation maps (with information on the number of vessels and their coordinates). IO RAS specialists performed integrated analysis of received information and produced expert conclusions. The requestor received source radar images, analysis and processing results as well as expert conclusions via electronic communication within 2 – 3 hours of the imagery session.

The following tasks were tackled in the process of monitoring:

  • Detection of film pollution of the sea surface (including oil slicks) in license areas using space radar imagery;
  • Definition of film pollution nature;
  • Identification of likely pollution sources taking into account operational shipping situation;
  • Tracking slick evolution and prediction of drifting routes.

To detect background sources of pollution, space monitoring was held in the sea areas, which size exceeded the license areas of the requestor. Identification of oil slicks, determination of space-time properties of oil pollution and detection of risk areas utilized GIS-based approach developed in IO RAS, while data processing ran on ScanEx RDC software. The conducted analysis of satellite data demonstrated current favorable environmental situation in the areas of the Sea of Okhotsk under monitoring. The results of the monitoring showed that offshore activities in the Sea of Okhotsk were carried out with strict adherence to the standards of technical and environmental safety. No evidence was found that the drilling rig or supply/tug vessels polluted the surface of the Sea of Okhotsk within the license area with oil products, and the main source of the revealed minor slicks (same as in the other Russian seas) was maritime traffic and commercial fishing.

In her comments on the monitoring results Vice-President of ScanEx RDC Olga Gershenzon emphasized that the project on the Sea of Okhotsk was the first to demonstrate capabilities of Russian techniques of real-time radar offshore monitoring in the Far East, able to support everyday imagery and supply remote sensing products to a customer within 2 – 3 hours of the imagery: “Today we can offer to our clients, regardless where they are located – in Moscow or Sakhalin – the services that include prompt supply of remote sensing products on oil pollution and shipping situation in the seas of the Far East”.