GIS to simplify oil and gas drilling

July 2012 » Columns » GIS SOLUTIONS
Jeffrey Yoders

Corpus Christi, Texas-based Frontier Surveying (www.frontiersurveying.com) has seen a lot of technological change since it was founded in 1979 before geographic coordinates (Xs, Ys) were the key in staking a new location. The introduction of GPS and 3D seismic software rapidly changed the way Frontier did business. Primarily meeting the surveying and mapping needs of the oil and gas industry, Frontier has expanded its services to include GIS.

Oil and gas field photos are hyperlinked to mapped features using GIS.

Now, proposed well locations (X,Ys) are sent to Frontier by geologists using data obtained from 3D seismic surveys. The placement of a proposed well site is staked according to those geographic coordinates. Oil and gas lease lines, survey lines, and related infrastructure also are collected using GPS.

Frontier—€™s current processes take full advantage of Web-based spatial information systems to allow the company—€™s surveyors and GIS experts to build, maintain, and distribute large geographic datasets securely to multiple users across local and wide-area networks.

Frontier—€™s GIS Manager Michael Beavers worked for several organizations in the public sector including the City of Corpus Christi before he was hired to revitalize and build out Frontier—€™s GIS. The GIS team—€™s first task was to meet the needs of the staff that create and use CAD drawings as well as the survey teams that collect field data using GPS. —€œWe had to aggregate hundreds of high-accuracy field control points (x,y,z data) that have been set by our field survey crews across Texas throughout time,—€ Beavers said.

These points were stored in surveyors—€™ field notebooks and were not in a digital format. Regularly, survey teams would have to take the time to set control in an area where nearby existing control may have been set by previous field crews. —€œWe needed to take that information out of its analog form and put it into the GIS,—€ Beavers said.

Beavers—€™ GIS team then set out to place points on the map of more than 20,000 sites the company had surveyed since the late 1970s. Those points were linked to multiple databases related to the jobs, including HR and accounting. Users simply click on the location in the map and, via hyperlinks to the databases, get all the relevant information about any job.

Giving all the field crews access to Frontier—€™s comprehensive control layer with GIS has saved Frontier and its client—€™s tremendous amounts of time and money. Viewing this layer inside GIS also revealed spatial patterns that helped Frontier with market analysis, field crew dispatching, and reducing drive times.

Beavers—€™ team initially used Esri—€™s ArcGIS to create and store this spatial information. The next task was to market their new GIS to clients such as medium-sized oil companies —€” large enough to benefit from GIS but not so large that they already had their own systems.

As the size of and the demand for spatial data expanded, the next issue was how to securely deliver and share spatial datasets with clients and staff. Beavers and the Frontier GIS team began using Dropbox, a cloud-storage, file hosting, sharing, and synchronization technology.

When ArcGIS Online for Organizations debuted this year, Frontier expanded its GIS services even further. Using ArcGIS Online for Organizations as a beta tester, Beavers and his team created webmaps for customers, all with secure log-ins.

Before migration to the cloud, Frontier—€™s headquarters in Corpus Christi, the branch offices in Fort Worth, and the satellite office in Midland were experiencing delays in working on the maps because much of the data was stored on local Dell Virtual Servers. Today, all of its GIS data has been moved to secure cloud storage and is available 24/7 to all of its users. Additionally, the data is backed up automatically.

Demand for the GIS grows every month. —€œAs they realize how powerful it is, staff and clients want more and faster access to their information,—€ Beavers said. —€œThat—€™s why we—€™ve moved to cloud sharing. We want to get more clients and to expand our services.—€

Read the complete article at www.zweigwhite.com/GISSolutions Michael Beavers will present —€œSurveying with the Cloud,—€ at the 2012 Esri International User Conference in San Diego, July 22 from 1:30-3:00 p.m.


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