Automatic oil spill monitoring and risk alert from satellite data

Oil spills from ships and offshore installations, either illegally or from accidents, can cause major environmental damages. With increased maritime traffic and oil activity near sensitive areas, the risk of damage from oil spills is of increasing concern.

Satellite data provides possibilities to detect oil spills and localize the pollution source in areas that one otherwise would not have been able to monitor. On the basis of the detected spills authorities may conduct further investigations with e.g. aircrafts or patrol boats. Today, such monitoring is carried out by manual inspection of satellite radar images. For effective monitoring, it is essential to monitor large areas and check them frequently. However, on a global scale, a service based on manual inspection is to too costly and inefficient.

The idea is therefore to develop a service for automated oil spill monitoring based on satellite data, where an analysis that considers the risk of environmental damage for a detected oil spills using satellite data in combination with information on sea state and oil drift models are central.

The service will be global and offered by the project owner Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT).



Research areas

Project period




Kongsberg Satellite Services / Research Council of Norway


Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT)


University of Tromsø