Multi-Mission Satellite Detection and Tracking of October 2019 Sabiti Oil Spill in the Red Sea

Koteswararao Vankayalapati, Hari Prasad Dasari, Sabique Langodan, Samah El Mohtar, Siva Reddy Sanikommu, Khaled Asfahani, Srinivas Desamsetti, Ibrahim Hoteit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


A multi-mission satellite remote sensing (MSRS) approach is explored to detect and track leaked oil from the Sabiti oil tanker accident that occurred in the central Red Sea on 11 October 2019 (RSOS-2019). The spilled oil spread rapidly and reached the coastal land near Jeddah, the second largest city of KSA, on 17 October. Different oil spill detection algorithms were implemented on SAR and optical sensor-based satellite images to track the oil spill. Sentinel-1 SAR images were most efficient at detecting the spread and thickness of RSOS-2019, but their spatio-temporal coverage greatly limits their use for tracking the oil movement. The spread and propagation of oil were well captured by Sentinel-2 images up to three weeks after the accident day, in agreement with the SAR images. MODIS successfully detected the narrow patch of oil that was leaked on the incident day and the widespread oil patches two days after. Landsat-8 RGB composite and thermal infrared images captured the oil spill on 13 October. By filtering clouds from the Meteosat images through sequential analysis, the spread and movement of the oil patches were efficiently tracked on 13 October. PlanetScope images available between 12 and 17 October enabled tracking of the oil near the coastal waters. The inferred oil spill movements are consistent with the ocean currents as revealed by a high-resolution regional ocean reanalysis. Our results demonstrate the potential of the MSRS approach to detect and track oil spills in the open and coastal waters of the Red Sea in near real-time.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 22 2022

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-12-26
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): REP/1/3268-01-01
Acknowledgements: This research and the APC was funded by Saudi ARAMCO under the project “An Intelligent Early-Warning Oil Spill Detection and Prediction System for the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea” (grant number RGC/3/4290-01-01) and by the Vice President of Research Office at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) under the “Virtual Red Sea Initiative” (grant number REP/1/3268-01-01).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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