ViaLogy Partners With Texas Group ASTFS to Offer Aerial Survey Services for Underground Oil & Gas Pipelines

LONDON , July 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- ViaLogy LLC announces an agreement with Texas -based ASTFS LLC, an oil and gas pipeline field services and survey company, to offer its QSUB(TM) electromagnetic imagery fusion platform to provide imaging...


LONDON , July 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- ViaLogy LLC announces an agreement with Texas -based ASTFS LLC, an oil and gas pipeline field services and survey company, to offer its QSUB(TM) electromagnetic imagery fusion platform to provide imaging of underground metallic pipelines using airborne ground-penetrating sensors to determine precise GPS locations.

This information will be used by pipeline companies to enhance their ability to repair and maintain their primary asset. After the successful completion of a proof of concept study, the technology will be refined to provide imaging of corrosion and leaks from an aerial platform. This will provide critical information to the client concerning the health of their system without affecting operations. This has the potential to greatly reduce the cost of repair and maintenance for the pipeline owner.

Under the terms of this agreement, ViaLogy and ASTFS, which is part of the Advanced Spatial Technologies Group of Oklahoma , will collaborate on a pilot survey deploying helicopter-mounted light detection and ranging (LIDAR), ground penetrating synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensors and advanced GIS analytics. The objective is to fly over and accurately detect approximately 100km of underground pipeline in rugged mountain terrain. ViaLogy's QSUB(TM) software will be deployed to process radar imagery and extract pipe position data, which will be controlled by AST's Spatial Asset Management System (AST SAMS(TM)). AST SAMS is a simplified table driven data management software tool with complete compatibility to any database management system the customer may be using. This technology provides the capability to easily locate assets with pinpoint accuracy, mark the location with sub-foot precision, record the condition or state of repair, estimate projections for end-of-life and manage all of the critical asset data events in a simple, ruggedized solution that can be operated by a non-technical field worker. The pilot will be supported by a major pipeline company that intends to purchase the service going forward.

Following success of the pilot survey, ASTFS has agreed to deliver minimum revenues of US$26.5 million to ViaLogy for market exclusivity in North America over a period of five years.

According to the U. S. Department of Transportation's Office of Pipeline Safety - Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), (http://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/) there are over two million miles of onshore underground oil and natural gas pipelines in the US alone, operated by over 3000 companies. While metal pipelines are designed and constructed to rigorous standards, over time ground movement, internal/external corrosion, dents and gouges degrade the pipeline so that spills or releases occur. Also, much of the older pipe was originally surveyed with older systems that were incapable of providing accuracies of less than 30 feet and precise locations are difficult to establish, but necessary for repairs and to contain leakage. According to an April 2008 PHMSA report, human error and excavation were responsible for over 40% of underground pipeline damage resulting from inability to determine precise locations.

All aspects of pipeline construction, monitoring and remediation are highly regulated by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other state/local agencies. In several US states, there are legal requirements for pipeline operators to provide location information accurate to within 18 inches according to an ADM Inc report. The current process of locating pipeline using handheld electronic location instruments and other intrusive techniques is costly and inefficient; it employs often dated maps of where the pipes were originally placed, and manual ground probes to find it. The work is labour-intensive, and much of it has to be carried out in remote locations or in areas where land ownership issues complicate easy access. The cost to precisely locate the entire system is prohibitive and most companies restrict these activities to "high consequence" areas such as major road crossings and limited high concentration urban areas. The Vialogy-ASTFS service will greatly simplify the process and be made widely available. It will dramatically reduce costs and enable timely repairs. The companies see an attractive addressable commercial market and anticipate pricing of this service at approximately US$2500/km.

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