Blue Marble 2014 User Group

LMKR - GIS oil and gas usage ‘exploding.’ Google Earth? resistance is futile! Suncor’s GIS revamp.

Speaking at the recent Blue Marble Geographics user group in Calgary, LMKR’s Scott Oelfke stated that Geographic Information Systems (GIS) usage in oil and gas is ‘exploding’, driven by GIS’ key role in shale development. Shale and other resource plays cover ‘vast areas’ where field planning and logistics are at a premium. GIS enables operators to track the thousands of wells drilled over hundreds of square miles assuring collision avoidance and enabling rapid permitting and providing up-to-date information. GIS is ‘going viral.’ The downside is that the numbers of GIS practitioners who understand basic geographical concepts such as datums, projections and shifts is not keeping up with the booming deployment. Oelfke warns that bad geographical assumptions can have severe legal and financial repercussions.

To minimize GIS risk, LMKR has embedded Blue Marble’s coordinate transformation technology in its GeoAtlas mapping flagship. The use of ESRI ‘layer’ files (as opposed to the older shapefile) has simplified data management by linking maps to multiple original QC’d data sources. The arrival of Google Earth (GE) has been a blessing and a curse. GE presents major issues with accuracy and usefulness but it has ‘done more than perhaps even ESRI’ to advance GIS to the forefront of management’s agenda. GE makes everyone a geographer. ‘Resistance is futile, it’s the way industry is moving.’

Alonzo de la Cruz (Suncor Energy), a geomatics professional, showed how care, during a major GIS revamp, was required to avoid disaster. Suncor’s legacy GIS data included custom coordinate systems created decades ago to ‘simplify engineering calculations in a pre-computer world.’ The company also has projects that use lesser known coordinate systems. With help from Blue Marble, Suncor has created a custom xml format to import its legacy coordinate systems into Blue Marble desktop, at the same time making them easier to find and use.

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