One of the major concerns for pipeline operators is to efficiently monitor the events happening over the pipeline corridor, or right-of-way (ROW). Monitoring of the ROW is an important part of ensuring the safe and efficient transportation of oil and gas. Events occurring within this zone require rapid assessment and, if necessary, mitigation. These events could be physical intrusions such as encroachment from growing settlements, impact of vegetation, pipeline leakage or geo-environmental hazards.

Analysis of satellite imagery can provide an efficient and low cost solution to access and quantify change across the ROW. Examining these events over a periodic interval requires implementation of specific methods that can support the on-going monitoring and decision making practices. In this context, satellite remote sensing images can provide a low cost and efficient solution for monitoring the physical and environmental impacts over the ROW of pipeline system.

This paper reports on the development of a methodological approach for environmental change analysis using high resolution satellite images that can help decision making in pipeline systems. Analysis results and maps produced during this work provide an insight into landcover change over the study area and expected to support in on-going pipeline management practices.

Two methods, Vegetation index differencing and post classification comparison have been implemented to identify change areas in the Taranaki region of the North Island of New Zealand. Vegetation index differencing with NDVI shows increase or decrease of overall vegetation within the study area. Special focus was given on large area increase and decrease with area threshold value above 0.2 hectare.

Detailed analysis of change was conducted with post classification comparison method that uses land cover classification results of year 2010 and 2013. An overall change of 10% has been observed throughout the study area with large area change of approximately 5%. Results obtained from post classification comparison method were further analyzed with 6 focus areas and compared with the existing soil data and rainfall data.

The methods adopted during this study are expected to provide a base for environmental change analysis in similar pipeline corridors to support decision making.

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