Geospatial Technology within Oil and Gas

Geospatial solution provides geospatial technologies to accurately map oil and gas infrastructures underground including oil and gas locations, gathering, distribution and production facilities. These Geospatial technologies include:

  • Photogrammetry
  • Remote Sensing
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and
  • Global Positioning Systems (GPS)

Geospatial technology plays a critical role in the ability for oil and Gas companies to explore and find oil and gas. These companies face many challenges as they try to integrate different software packages and datasets from many sources. Geospatial technology can help oil and Gas Companies meet the many challenges they face in this area. The ability to find new reserves is getting a boost from higher resolution earth observation satellites that are the advance tools for mapping the geology across the globe. Bringing geologic and geophysical data into GIS combined with geoscience interpretation applications have improve exploration in frontier basins. The integration of GIS, remote sensing, 3D modelling and other measuring technologies have increased the capabilities to find oil and gas with improved operational efficiencies. Oil and gas companies utilize geospatial technologies in their entire workflow from:

  • Prospecting
  • Exploration
  • Logistics
  • Production
  • Environmental Assessment and
  • Pumping gas stations

All these different data sources can be extracted, transformed and loaded into a company’s geographic information system for mapping and spatial analysis. Data plus analytics can help a company more readily analyse, plan and control their operational challenges. When I started working for a service company that provide seismic and well log data to Oil and Gas companies, I was really surprised by how much the company has invested in geospatial technology and the maps were there to tell the story.  From the floors, walls and doors of major entrances and conference rooms you could see maps that tell the history of the company to the services that they provide and how they care about the environment. The marine department had a beautiful map showing their vehicles in the ocean collecting seismic data in real time and how they track the vehicles using GPS technology. The marketing and sale department produced maps that show areas of past and present seismic acquisition and projected areas for future acquisition. They also had maps that show competitor data that allows the company to do simple or advanced analytics to understand the business trend and to stay ahead of their competitors. I realized all the departments within the company were making use of geospatial data in one way or the other and the goal was to bring all these data in one central location (enterprise geospatial repository). Once a company have all of its geospatial data in one location and with the right technology it can make better decisions because oil and gas companies need to understand geographic relationships near or surrounding each of their physical assets.  For instance with multiple layers of exploration and production geospatial information companies can answer questions such as what assets do we have within 200 meters of our recently completed pipeline?

Geospatial technologies are critical for mapping and managing oil and gas infrastructure such as pipeline. For instance as reported in the Geospatial World Magazine, Tullow Oil has documented up to 15% cost savings in using GIS routing systems for pipeline planning.

Also reports from ESRI magazine (GIS for Petroleum) stated that when Shell Exploration and Production’s Rocky Mountain team in Denver, Colorado, bought the Pinedale field in the Green River Basin in Wyoming in early 2008, Shell evaluated the well planning process and launched a GIS implementation that helped increase efficiency, reduce planning cycle time, and realize a dramatic cost benefit.

Geospatial technologies are no longer a technology for big companies and are available for mid to small size companies. Oil and Gas companies big or small can afford geospatial technology especially with the emergence of open source geospatial technologies. Oil and Gas companies that have fully incorporated geospatial capabilities in their workflows have seen significant gains in their operational effectiveness and lower operational cost.

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