Updated: Apr 23, 2019
If you have been following along, the last time we spoke was about seeing the light at the increasingly dark tunnel named pipeline regulations. We realized that two of the biggest hurdles in the way companies manage regulations placed on the pipeline industry include time and resources. While organizations as a whole cannot normally sway the rules on which they operate, they can better manage these aspects of their companies and their workflows. “How?”, you might ask. Well, let’s just say Geographic Information System (GIS) technology has come a long way.
Because our company is made up of individuals from many different backgrounds and we have worked with some of the best and brightest companies in the Natural Resources “biz”, we have had the chance to hear many a success story – as well as see quite a few of them for ourselves! One of these successes includes better administering Integrity Management Programs with the power of GIS.
A Faster Approach to the Dig Program
Pipeline Integrity Management (PIM) has many moving parts. From preparing integrity dig programs to bringing in land owner information to reducing environmental impact…it is a time-consuming and exhaustive process that must be regularly audited to ensure each component still works in the overall scheme of things.
While implementing GIS into the thick of things can help establish repeatable workflows, it also allows you to quickly accomplish tasks that would have otherwise kept your team busy for much longer. For example, sussing out anomalies can quickly become a hassle. By including pipeline centerline and ILI data in the same map, you are better able to see the exact location of anomalies.
Adding landowner information atop this introduces yet another layer of knowledge. By overlaying these details atop pipeline data, your team can determine those landowners who need to be contacted in order for you to gain access to the area. As this progresses, you can even include attributes for those landowners who have been reached out to, those who have not, and those who have not yet responded to keep an eye on this side of your integrity management.
Better Visualization, Better Results
Employing GIS technology internally will help your team make incredible strides in the tasks required for PIM. However, staring at a screen is not always the best way to present the information that owners and managers need to see. By utilizing ArcGIS to create an alignment sheet, you can show multiple pieces of highly valuable information in one go. To name a few of the details that can be shown…
Landowner details in and around the proposed dig site.
Pipeline attribute data in the proposed dig site, including High Consequence Areas (HCA).
Elevation and ground cover of the area.
This type of resource is highly customizable and much easier to share across your organization - remember, not everyone has access to GIS software - and understand in general. When employing tools that help build these resources, well…we know that sense of relief when you get a little more of your time back!
Why Is This Important?
Even though we can argue the benefits of applying GIS to Pipeline Integrity Management day in and day out, let’s focus on a few of the clearest reasons this is such a big deal.
Establish reliant and repeatable PIM workflows. Managing pipeline integrity is not a one-off task. Finding the right tools and processes that help your team accomplish these steps is a big win. Thankfully, many of these same processes can be easily repeated with each iteration or even modified to better suit the current situation.
Reduce environmental damage and appease landowners. For this benefit, the power of GIS in environmental impact and landowner happiness goes hand-in-hand. By reducing the frequency of construction vehicles and maintenance crews on the dig site, you are able to cut down on the amount of environmental damage done to the landowner’s property.
Review anomalies over time. Remember when we talked about repeatable processes? One of the best perks of employing GIS technology is that it helps to perform regular analysis of important issues, such as tracking anomalies in your dig program, without requiring you to start from scratch each time.
While all of the above is important, the bottom line for many companies is…well…the bottom line. Finding a new way to tackle recurring tasks can help to reduce costs, especially when GIS comes into the equation. In particular, we have seen lowering of lease access payments, reduction of dig costs, and dwindling costs of crews required. That in itself a bright light to which to turn.
Explore the Series
This series explores the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and applications to better manage pipeline regulations, especially within the Natural Resources and Emergency Response sectors.
Week 5 - Enhance Fate and Transport Modeling