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Energy, Climate change, Environment

EMODnet Human Activities facilitating pipeline route selection


A pipeline is a series of connected pipes that are used to carry fluids such as oil, gas, water, or sewage. They are used for transport on land, but they can also be laid on the seabed. In the latter case, the infrastructure can be referred to as an offshore, marine, submarine or subsea pipeline.

As is often the case with human activity, pipelines can be extremely useful, while at the same time very dangerous. They convey oil or gas from subsea wells to platforms, or from platforms to shore, but there may be spills or leaks that could pose huge risks to marine ecosystems.

EMODnet Human Activities recently created a dataset on offshore pipelines. Albeit incomplete, the dataset shows the true potential of EMODnet.

When a pipeline needs to be installed, a very complex task is the pipeline route selection as it requires information on seabed topography (EMODnet Bathymetry and Geology), obstructions, debris, existing structures, other human activities, existing pipeline/ cable crossing (EMODnet Human Activities). In some cases information on water salinity, waves, and currents (EMODnet Physics) is also needed.

Prior to EMODnet, sourcing this information used to be a painful and time-consuming exercise. In-situ measurements and inspections are still needed, whereas a great part of the initial information needed to commence work is just a few clicks away, and is available for free.