Feature article on Shell website – Earth observation used to monitor sustainable development of Canadian oil sands
Jun 27, 2007
To support commitments to sustainable development and ecosystem stewardship, Hatfield Consultants is assisting Shell Canada Ltd. to use the latest satellite Earth observation satellite technologies for environmental monitoring of their Canadian oil sands operations. The results are included in Shell’s recently released sixteenth annual Sustainable Development Report. Their commitment to the use of this technology was further supported today by the publication of a feature article on the Shell Canada website
A time series of satellite imagery can provide clear, objective information on development and reclamation of oil sands mine leases, and enable annual reporting of mine activity footprint, including impacts on vegetation habitat, and the reclamation of terrestrial vegetation following disturbance. In partnership with Albian Sands Energy Inc., the European Space Agency (ESA), and a Canadian and European team led by Hatfield Consultants, trial information services were developed, in which high-resolution satellite images were acquired and processed to assess:
– Mine activity area;
– Habitat fragmentation within the lease area, watershed and region; and
– Potential for integration of First Nations traditional environmental knowledge with satellite imagery, to support visualization and monitoring of oil sands developments in relation to traditional territories.
Imagery from the French SPOT-5 satellite was acquired by Hatfield Consultants in 2006, which enabled an assessment of Shell Canada’s mine activities in the context of overall oil sands development in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and within the Muskeg River watershed where Shell Canada and Albian Sands Energy operate. Hatfield were able to compare the imagery acquired in 2006 to other satellite observations made in 2005. While this activity is currently monitoring activity, it will also be used to track reclamation activities.
2006 Mine Activity
For example, the processed images showed a 9.3 per cent increase in Shell’s land use from 2005 to 2006. This represents 2.45 per cent of the entire Muskeg River watershed, and 8.2 per cent of land used in all Athabasca oil sands activities. In Shell’s Athabasca Oil Sands Project Expansion, the amount of land use is expected to increase year on year before remediation and reclamation begins. The imagery acquired in 2006 can serve as a baseline, with repeat observations and analysis providing a record of Shell’s mine development and reclamation, documenting a commitment to progressive mining.
An innovative part of the collaboration included the audit of the entire image processing methodology by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The audit provided assurance that the results were produced using valid and robust techniques, which provides confidence in the sustainable development information.
For more information, please contact us:
Dr. Wade Gibbons
Senior Environment Specialist and Partner
HATFIELD CONSULTANTS PARTNERSHIP
Tel.: +1 604 926 3261
Toll-Free: 1 866 926 3261