Near Real-Time Monitoring of Oil Spills · All Eyes on the Amazon


The number and size of accidental spills from ageing, ill-maintained or sabotaged pipelines have increased significantly in the tropical rainforests of the Niger Delta and the Western Amazon, that have become sites of reoccurring oil pollution (Jernelöv, 2010; Mena 2016). In the Niger Delta, a total of 1.5 million tons of oil have been spilled in the delta over a 50-year period (Obot et al. 2006, Gaughran 2009) and the Nigerian government identified more than 7000 spills between 1970 and 2000, and 2000 official major spillage sites (Jernelöv, 2010). In the Ecuadorian, Peruvian, and Colombian Amazon, oil spills have polluted large areas of rainforests. In 2013, Chevron/Texaco was sentenced to pay a USD 9.5 billion fine for the damage to human health and the environment resulting from oil pollution from its operations in the Ecuadorian Amazon (Pellegrini 2021). In Colombia, the total volume of oil spilled from just a 780-km-long pipeline (Caño Limón) built in 1986 to transport the oil from the Colombian Amazon to the Caribbean coast is estimated to be some 400,000 tons (Jernelöv, 2010). In the Peruvian Amazon, 1963 oil polluted sites have been identified just in a single oil concession (oil block  192) in operation since 1974 (Orta-Martínez et al 2021). However, in those remote areas from low and middle income countries -LMICs-, oil spill surveillance systems are missing or unreliable (Jernelöv, 2010; Watts and Zalik 2020; Korovkin 2003).

The mobile technology revolution, with low-cost and user-friendly devices and mobile apps have created a wide range of possibilities for citizen science as Near Real-Time Monitoring systems (Finer et al 2018). In the same vein, recent advances in satellite-based remote sensing, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones, big data processing and technologies like Web 2.0 and online map servers, have allowed, as the prices decrease and the technology becomes easier to use, forest monitoring with high spatial, temporal and thematic detail and the rapid increase of their use in environmental applications (Hansen et al 2019). ImpactAnt evaluates the use of remote sensors (satellite borne -either multispectral or radar satellite images- or UAVs) for oil spill detection and, their coupling with Citizen Science to create an alert system for quick response to onshore oil spills in the global tropical rainforests and to inform ongoing international court cases that seek remedy and redress of environmental harm from oil extraction activities.


If you are interested in doing research on any of these topics, for your Postdoc, PhD, Msc or intership, you are welcome to contact us anytime at . We would be happy to support you to apply to:

FI and FPU PhD grants

Margarita Salas and Beatriu de Pinós grants for Junior Postdocs (<2 years since PhD)

- María Zambrano international Postdoc grants (> 2 years since PhD)

Project dates

 July 2017 to December 2021


Nationale Postcode Loterij


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Research area


Team members

Research scientist
Research Professor
ICREA research professor
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