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Responding to High Tank Alarms in a Natural Gas Field Using Integrated GIS

British Petroleum (BP) approached ESC engineering with a need for a more efficient way to monitor and respond to high tank alarms. This was a necessity since a full tank can cause a shut-down in production at the well pad and may result in a spill requiring extensive cleanup. Due to the remoteness of well locations, tanker trucks must drive to these tanks, empty the contents, and drive to a disposal area. Safety, spill prevention and production are the three most important factors to BP’s operations and implementing GIS technology to allow an earlier interpretation of SCADA information would improve all three.


The field was a remote area with poor cell phone coverage, so ESC’s approach utilized Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) units that have a satellite option, enabling information from trucks out of cell range to be automatically transferred to the satellite-based GPS mode. Many of the roads were private and not listed on general maps, so ESC utilized the road data layer previously generated for the GIS maps and converted it into a customized Garmin data format.


ESC’s approach was to link the current GIS mapping system to the client’s SCADA system. Using a GIS map in the control room, operators were able to respond to high tank alarms by AVL marker proximity of the map, dispatching water trucks using up-to-the-minute vehicle location data. Each truck was also equipped with an off-the-shelf Garmin GPS unit loaded with a custom data set. Because of Garmin’s large investment in creating a reliable vehicle navigation product for the mass-market, this solution proved to be easy to use and relatively inexpensive.


The new system with an updated mapping component presents less chance that a tank alarm will be overlooked. Time, resources, and trip miles are saved by using AVL units to eliminate phone calls and ensure that the nearest available truck is there to do the job. The execution went well and the link of the GIS to the SCADA system works smoothly and is a dramatic improvement over the former system.