Keeping an eagle eye on oil and gas assets  

Keeping track of assets and equipment spread over multiple worksites and often remote locations is a constant challenge. For an oil and gas (O&G) company, centralizing information and data on fixed and mobile assets is invaluable. Two complementary technologies, namely Geographical Positioning Software (GPS) and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software, are the industry’s tools of choice. GPS is designed to identify, manage, and allocate mobile assets throughout the value and logistics chain. Conversely, GIS is designed for land assets and can store, retrieve, manage, display, and analyze geographic and spatial data.

Global Positioning System (GPS)
GPS tracking technology is ideal for monitoring the daily whereabouts of expensive heavy equipment. Workers can also use it to track movement between sites. For instance, workers using GPS trackers monitor assets across Alaska’s harsh and remote North Slope. Several commercial GPS devices are ideally suited to provide asset management solutions for the oil industry. For example, the O&G GPS tracking system from Trackimo provides companies with tools to track the location of crews, heavy equipment, and other valuable assets.

Using a GPS tracking solution also helps energy companies maintain staff safety. Many tracking options also feature panic buttons that workers can activate in emergencies, as well as geofencing that creates an alert when the wearer leaves a predetermined geographic area.

Benefits of using GPS in tracking equipment
Real-time tracking enables managers to locate an asset, its status, and a historical record of its movement. Data obtained from these practices can help improve efficiency. Pipelines are the lifeblood of the O&G industry, and just like arteries and veins, they need to be clear to run smoothly. Pipeline Inspection Gauges (PIGs) are devices that run inside pipelines. These tools take readings and pictures to detect anomalies or signs of corrosion, leading to leaks or bursts. Technicians can align PIG readings with an exact location by tracking devices along pipelines and GPS-synch time and location technology. This information helps them improve the accuracy of PIG readings and reduce the time and costs associated with doing PIG runs.

GPS also provides real-time updates on the location of specific vehicles or vessels worldwide. In addition, organizations can fit heavy equipment with GPS tracking devices to monitor temperature and fuel level changes. This allows managers to see if workers use the equipment safely and efficiently.

Concept image of GPS positioning system in the global.Image pin GPS on world map.vector illustration EPS 10.

Geofencing and notifications use GPS to create spatial virtual fences, which can be any shape or size, to prevent entry by company vehicles. A case in point is geofencing to prevent a high-sided vehicle from driving under a low bridge. Likewise, this GPS software can record and track personnel entering and leaving a geofenced zone.

Geographic Information System (GIS)
GIS helps companies manage their land assets by providing easy-to-use digital maps and spatial analysis. Throughout the extraction process, management and crew can use this technology in the field. GIS lets decision-makers see the topography, geology, and potential drilling constraints on a site in 3D. Moreover, with GIS mapping, managers can superimpose high-resolution imagery onto existing site maps to help determine project selections and surveys. Once managers select the site, they can visualize the oil well planning process in 3D as well. GIS also enables users to comprehend large volumes of geographic data visually. This practice complies with local laws and regulations at a particular location. GIS software has been especially valuable in shale plays to determine well-pad patterns. Spatial analytics help determine the most effective drilling configuration.

GIS software can provide particulars of a site. This includes the landowner’s name, planning restrictions, or lease expiration dates regarding land management data. In evaluating a possible bid at auction, GIS software can incorporate tailored information to feed into whether to bid for an oil bloc license. It is thought that oil majors employed GIS software to guide their response to Brazil’s November 2019 offshore oil and gas license auction.

Energy companies also use aerial drones equipped with GIS software to obtain high-quality images of their sites in the field. These images track subsidence, a significant risk in high-intensity drilling areas like Texas. As for planning pipeline routes, GIS helps owners juggle with stakeholders, including landowners, planning authorities, state regulators, and construction firms. Similarly, GIS tools are invaluable in helping companies avoid sinkholes, earthquake-prone areas, or even national parks.

Finally, GIS can also help employees on the ground. These benefits include repairing a drill or compressor by providing data to answer a particular need or producing digital maps. The digital maps delivered by web-based GIS applications require little or no staff training before use. They display all relevant data in a single interface. Workers can monitor this information on a rugged tablet or computer with 3D goggles.

For a list of the sources used in this article, please contact the editor.
Getac Technology Corporation is a global leader in rugged mobile technology and intelligent video solutions, including laptops, tablets, software, body-worn cameras, in-car video, interview rooms, and evidence management software. Getac’s solutions and services enable the vital work done by frontline workers operating in the world’s most challenging environments.