GIS Casper Recap

12-18-2017 02:48 PM
Esri Contributor
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Written by Geoff Wade, Team Lead - Natural Resource Industries, and John Farrell, GIS Manager, Jonah Energy


On October 25th, the Rocky Mountain Regional PUG Chapter in association with the WyGEO ran a very successful regional PUG meeting in Casper, Wyoming. This blog provides a brief report on that meeting and some of the key presentations made. The meeting was held at the Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center and attracted 65 attendees, mostly from the Casper region, but from elsewhere in Wyoming and from as far as Denver. The meeting was supported by sponsors: Allpoints GIS, Jonah Energy, WyGEO, and Esri. The meeting was convened by John Farrell of Jonah Energy, representing the Rocky Mountain PUG Chapter leadership committee, introducing the purpose of the meeting as to extend the Rocky PUG Chapter outreach efforts and provide a forum for education and community networking between members of the Wyoming GIS community, many of whom are involved with some aspect of the Oil & Gas industry, natural resources industries, education and government.


Paul Ulrich, Chairman, Petroleum Association of Wyoming  - Paul gave an excellent industry keynote reviewing the major contribution that O&G makes to the WY economy, with nearly 600 operators employing nearly 8000 people, and some 25,000 wells drilled to date. With nearly 50% of land managed by the BLM and a greater percentage of the mineral ownership, Paul explained how critical Federal partnerships in the O&G industry are. It was terrific to see therefore many WY State and a few Federal (USGS) GIS attendees in the audience. Paul reviewed the effects of the O&G price and resulting interest in tight sands and shale prospects, the EIA outlook for state exports and possible fiscal, infrastructure and land management policy changes that may improve WY prospectivity. Paul made a strong point that GIS plays a key role in supporting many critical O&G workflows and applauded the organization of the meeting in supporting the effort to make informed/efficient decisions and create a very low-cost energy development environment to generate further industry growth.


Teal Wykoff - University of Wyoming – Presented the Natural Resource and Energy Explorer (NREX) project and efforts to bring all WY O&G data resources together in an easily consumable form of a web-based mapping tool. The project is guided by the WY Governors’ office, and the tool is designed to aid Natural Resource Managers, local government planners, conservationists and developers to make the best, balanced, place-based decisions. Teal described the structure of the program, it’s guidance panel, and how they made the balanced decisions they did on data sensitivity, web-based data exploration, aggregation for public use, etc  and a demo was given to explore the system and its extensive contents.


John Farrell – Jonah Energy – presented the work that Jonah has been doing to capture the extensive field-based assets for their ongoing development of the Jonah Field. Jonah currently manages some 240 production sites and a wide array of wells, flowlines, storage facilities, roads, etc. Jonah has steadily been building a field-based asset inventory of impressive detail created from a combination of data sources, such as: engineering and as-built drawings, aerial photos, gps surveys, etc. and manages the data c/o a well-documented data-model.  While the development aids Jonah in management of the assets, and improves workflows in land, facilities management, HSE, etc, it also provides a terrific framework for the exchange of required information with regulatory agencies. The data is managed using the ArcGIS enterprise platform, and provides the capability to produce output as diverse as physical ‘map-books’ to web-based service delivery via mobile apps in the field.


Kellie Cairns Vlastos - Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative – described the initiatives efforts to encourage further responsible pipeline development both across and out of state. Kellie mentioned that WY residents only use 3% of the produced fuels and that more infrastructure is needed to distribute products between producers and consumers. Kellie advocated the proactive communication between interested parties, as outlined by the NEPA process, to create greater understanding of the pipeline possibilities and trade-offs eg to run on Federal lands parallel with existing networks. This would allow WY to significantly streamline the permitting process and speed project delivery. One example Kellie mentioned was the possibility of a CO2 pipeline network to facilitate CO2 flooding which can improve production volumes considerably. In the process of this project Kellie says she has become somewhat more familiar than she desired with map geometry tools to handle dangles, trims, merges, intersects, etc and is enjoying the much easier, faster and better environment of ArcMap Advanced tools. She is now sharing the data from the project via web-services and an HTML5 app to interested parties.


Jeff Sun – Casper College – presented a very stimulating conversation regarding how to advance the next generation of WY tech savvy energy workers – by introducing them early to GIS tools and building the GIS skillsets required for entry to the O&G industry. Jeff encourages his students to be organized about their learning, get trained, use new technologies eg drones – and generally become tech savvy. He also commented strongly on the need for cartographic skills and referred to Alan Carrol (ex Chief Cartographer at NatGeo) – now with Esri – and the development of completely new forms of map-based tools eg. StoryMaps.  He encourages his students to follow their passions by finding the line between what they really want to do with their lives – and the skills they need to get there. A terrific discussion ensued about the Western Governors Association's efforts to stimulate tech education, the benefits of community liaison groups, internships, geo-mentors, etc.


Andrew Finley – Goolsby, Finley & Associates, LLC – gave a terrific presentation on the role of ArcGIS supporting any exploration-based workflows, and focused especially on the process of land management and payments. While Andrew praised the excellent communications capabilities of maps, he also called for greater flexibility in analytical tools for combining attribute and spatial-based data exploration like in the new ArcGIS Insights. He demonstrated several excellent and detailed illustrative chart-based workflows which he integrates with Petra for his Geological evaluations and said that he is looking forward to digging into new tools that are coming to enable such flexible data exploration.

Nicholas Graf – University of Wyoming – presented the One Steppe system for tracking Sage-Grouse habitat changes with GIS. In 2008, the State of Wyoming adopted a Sage-Grouse Core Area Protection Strategy to protect core breeding areas, which cover 25% of the state. Protective measures include limiting development within core areas to an average of 5% disturbance and 1 disruption per 640 acres, creating a unique spatial challenge. Given the vastness of the protected area and the amount of proposed projects, the density and disturbance calculation, coupled with the current review processes present a daunting task for both project proponents and government agencies.  In 2012, in order to support the calculations and review process, the Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center (WyGISC), in partnership with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD), created an online map application to assist the project proponent in documenting compliance with the executive order, a process called the Density and Disturbance Calculation Tool (DDCT).  While preparing for the 2015 Greater Sage-Grouse status review, the State of Wyoming began collecting both conservation and sagebrush restoration efforts that are taking place.  In 2016, WyGISC, with collaboration from WGFD and the Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center (WRRC) began building a suite of tools called OneSteppe, for integrating both existing and new applications to better track all aspects of the sagebrush steppe habitat in Wyoming. With several focused spatial applications feeding one database, the State of Wyoming has shifted focus to the entire sagebrush steppe habitat, with an emphasis on ground conditions, allowing improved project tracking and transparency, which will ultimately lead to an integrated picture of the sagebrush steppe habitat in Wyoming.


Joe Scott – Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission – presented the newly enhanced WOGCC website, which contains new navigation tools and many database upgrades. The site has clearly moved on considerably, and although doesn’t contain everything that Scott would like it to – it does clearly provide an invaluable source of WY O&G data, provided by operators. He mentioned that the well data is updated every two to four weeks in their Flex viewer, and the GIS representation can also be seen in NREX.

Jack Murray – Belle Fourche Pipeline Company - Jack shared Belle Fourche Pipeline’s use of New Century Software for pipeline integrity management to model the risk to the environment from spills caused by potential leaks that are modeled with GIS along the pipeline.  This enables specialists to identify and rate the risk areas along the pipeline so that proactive preventive measures can be considered in pipeline design and maintenance.


Geoff Wade and Dal Hunter – Esri – presented on some of the latest technology developments regarding the ArcGIS platform – such as the release of the new professional level desktop application Pro, the further enhancement and additions to ArcGIS Online Living Atlas content and capabilities, and the development of Portal, the on-premise version of a server based information portal, to encourage wide-scale use of web services and applications. New Mobile capabilities were discussed, providing a suite of apps for field inspections, surveys, and reporting. Finally, new analytical capabilities demonstrated in the form of Insights for ArcGIS which provides simple and intuitive charting capabilities and data exploration tools.

Rick Couture – Rocky Mountain PUG Chapter and Shawn Lanning - Wyoming Geospatial Organization – Finally, Rick Couture, founding member of the Rocky PUG Chapter, and Shawn Lanning, president of the Wyoming Geospatial Organization, closed the meeting with a summary of some of the day's highlights and a thanks to sponsors. They reminded everyone how vital it is for our energy GIS community to get together on a regular basis, but also pointed to the development of virtual networks and technology to stay connected on a regular basis. The suggestion was made of a blog-post and social media channel to connect those that attended and others that might like to participate – this blog it is hoped will be a step in the right direction to encourage further dialog on the excellent presentations made, and discussions that happened through the day. It’s wonderful to make new friends – and this environment was both stimulating and personally rewarding.

Join the PUG community to stay informed of future regional PUG events. You can also learn more about the regional RockyPUG chapter directly through their website

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