BP manages world-class pipeline with GIS04/02/2010
Global energy giant British Petroleum (BP) has been operating in the central Asian country of Azerbaijan since the 1990s. This strategically positioned nation – located at the intersection of Europe and Asia – has extensive oil reserves and is a key player in the global energy markets, however, with no direct access to an ocean, Azerbaijan’s oil industry relies heavily on an extensive pipe network to transport oil for export.
BP Azerbaijan manages four major pipelines, including the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline – the second longest in the world. The 1,768 km BTC pipeline was completed in 2005 and crosses exceptionally challenging terrain – including several mountain ranges and 1,500 watercourses.
During the pipeline’s construction, BP Azerbaijan leveraged Geospatial Information System (GIS) technology to help guide the complex planning and development process.
The organisation combined an internal ArcGIS for Desktop application and an external, web-based ArcIMS application to share information with engineers routing the pipeline, and to assist external agencies with land management, transportation and environmental assessment decisions.
As construction progressed, the project management team discovered new ways to harness the power of GIS. For example, by introducing polygons representing the nine pipe-laying steps to the pipeline’s map, the construction team was able to monitor progress and keep the project on schedule.
The GIS also permitted different stages of work to take place concurrently while carefully balancing sequencing constraints, such as safety limits on the length of trench that could be excavated before the previous section was backfilled.
The data for each polygon was then updated daily from the field, providing non-field staff with accurate construction information – enabling them to determine how to optimise the build and prevent equipment from sitting idle.
Once construction was complete, BP Azerbaijan continued to leverage GIS for the management and operation of the pipeline, however, instead of repurposing their existing system, they decided to introduce a new model.
Wanting to eliminate the need for ongoing, internal coding, BP Azerbaijan shifted to an off-the-shelf solution combined with ArcGIS for Server. This ensured their GIS would evolve over time – with minimal disruption to the pipeline – and removed the need to internally look after ongoing system maintenance.
The chosen product was developed by Latitude Geographics, and incorporated a number of additional features, including
- Web-based pipeline profiling – a visual representation of the depth the pipe is laid
- Layer swipe tool – a tool that allows users to quickly flick from one layer to another, enabling the comparison of satellite imagery and landscape changes over time
- Reference grids for large format, template-based printing
- The reprojection of map data according to custom projections
- Unloadable and linked images to the map
These features have allowed the GIS to be easily incorporated into BP Azerbaijan’s everyday workflows for non-specialist users, and as well as meeting current needs, also provide the organisation with a strong smart mapping foundation for future decision-making.