Arctic Pipeline Route Selection

To reduce the risks to arctic pipelines from natural or geologic hazards, a more sophisticated approach to routing compared to traditional methods based on only the shortest length of pipe or connectivity to existing infrastructure is needed.

Weighted geohazard composite map draped over greyscale hillshade image (045° azimuth 45° altitude).

Arctic environments have unique geologic complexities. It is important to identify and avoid or mitigate significant geological hazards such as ice gouges, strudel scours (circular depressions), or permafrost upheaval zones for subsea pipeline routes in arctic environments. The authors demonstrate a work flow to identify and map multiple geohazards, incorporate pipeline-related criteria, classify and weight features on the basis of their inferred risk to a subsea pipeline, develop a composite map of hazards, and perform geographic-information-system (GIS)-based, least-cost pipeline-routing techniques to produce optimal pipeline route options.


This paper describes a work flow for quickly and semiautomatically mapping geohazards in an arctic setting along with geohazard assessment and pipeline route determination. The authors emphasize the importance of route selection in the early stages of project development to guide subsequent data collection and assessments for detailed site analyses.

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