The National Space Science Agency in collaboration with the Regional Organization for the Protection of The Marine Environment (ROPME), based in Kuwait, Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Center (MEMAC), based in the Kingdom, Supreme Council for Environment (SCE), Supreme Council for Woman (SCW) and University of Bahrain (UOB) are working on a joint project titled “Automation Monitoring System for Oil Spill Detection in the Arabian Gulf.”
- The main objective of ROPME is to coordinate efforts of the eight Member States (Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) towards the protection of the marine and coastal environment and ecosystems in the ROPME Sea Area against marine pollution and stressors that might be induced from developmental activities and/or other drivers of change.
- MEMAC, established within the framework of Kuwait Regional Convention for Co-operation on the Protection of the Marine Environment from Pollution together with the Protocol concerning Co-operation in Combating Pollution by Oil and other Harmful Substances in Cases of Emergency which were signed on 24th April 1978 at Kuwait.
Dr. Mohamed Al Aseeri, NSSA CEO, commented “NSSA initiated this project after winning the first place in the Women Hackathon organized by The Supreme Council for Women in late 2019. The project proposed a solution to resolve the oil spill events that occur at the RSA by utilizing satellite imagery and historical data to add value by developing an algorithm that can predict oil spills incidents. The project will help in improving the communication between the responsible parties to take effective action to improve the current process of oil spill treatment. Additionally, the project will help contribute directly to the economy and the marine environment that includes strategic marine resources for the region to emphasize the marine resources such as coral reef, fish, turtles, migratory birds. etc. may be affected by the oil spill, and in the long term, it may disturb the marine food chain, which will affect the environment and contradict with the sustainable development plans of the member states.”
Eng. Muneera Al Malki commented, “This project aims to develop a system to unify the procedure for predicting and dealing with an oil spill incident that occurs at the ROPME sea area between the member states. The project is split into three main parts: Prediction, Detection, and Communication. We are planning to use satellite image processing, analysis and artificial intelligence techniques to predict and detect oil spill in the ROPME sea area (RSA) by developing a system that contains near real time algorithm embedded in a model that can play as an effective communication tool between the responsible parties.”
NSSA will be completing this project in phases, starting with researching current processes in terms of detection models and available methodology of detection and real-time algorithms, data collection and satellite imagery involving oil spill from many resources, algorithm development using specialized software and introducing artificial intelligence as a process enhancement, test and comparing the results with valid ground truth data, build an early alarm monitoring system for the end-user (ROPME & MEMAC) and finally publishing a scientific paper on the main finding of this project.
A series of meetings took place with the parties, and others are scheduled during 2020, most notably the visit to ROPME during which discussions took place to discuss ways of collaboration for the project success, conducting technical training sessions and field visits to ROPME ground station.