Common Environmental Review Issues (And How to Fix Them)

environmental consultingOil and gas projects can cover a large geographical area, making environmental review issues a major area of concern. When a company doesn’t prepare to address these issues in advance, they may find themselves scrambling to address them after the project has already started, leading to major delays and budget shortages that can be hard to overcome.

In this post, we’ll discuss some of the major environmental review issues that could interfere with your project and talk about how to prepare your company for these issues so they cause the least amount of complication possible.

Major Environmental Review Issues for Oil and Gas Projects

1. Wetlands Mitigation Regulations and Permitting
Getting a permit to work in or around wetlands is a very time-consuming process, so it’s important that you start thinking about what permits you might need well in advance of your project. Depending on the location, size, and scope of your project, it could take anywhere from 6 to 18 months to get your permit.

Another complicating factor is that the entire permitting process is handled by a single federal organization, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Even if you work with an environmental consulting firm, there is nothing they or anyone else can do to speed up the permitting process. The timeline for securing a permit will depend on the USACE’s schedule.

2. State Regulated Waters
Depending on what state your project is located in, you may need a permit to work around protected waters; this permit would be separate from the 404 permit that covers federal wetlands regulations. An example of this can be found in the Louisiana Scenic Rivers System.

The hard part of these regulations is knowing which bodies of waters are regulated, since the exact rules vary from state to state. Working with a partner that has an intimate knowledge of an area can be extremely helpful in this regard.

3. Well Spacing on Oil and Gas Projects
There will often be cases where you’re unable to secure a wetlands permit. In these instances, you may find yourself having to improvise by relocating a project site. In turn, this could lead to complications when a well ends up being located too far away from its assigned unit.

It’s critical to strike a balance between ensuring proper well spacing on your oil and gas project and complying with all environmental regulations.

4. Endangered Species
Your company must take the time to learn about any endangered species habitats that can be found in the area of your project site. If an endangered species does live in the area, your project will not be allowed to go ahead. It’s important to know about these situations in advance so that you can make other plans.

5. Archeological and Historical Sites
If areas of cultural or historical significance are discovered on the project site, your project will have to be shut down or relocated. These areas could include sites such as Native American mounds or cemeteries. While there may be no way to predict where these sites will be found, you can come up with a contingency plan to use in the event that such sites are found.

6. Wildlife Management Areas
Working in a wildlife management area can be very time-consuming and difficult. These areas are highly protected, and often require special clearances and notifications in order to access them. Once again, working with an environmental consulting firm can help you navigate this issue while also pursuing the satisfactory completion of your project.

To learn more about how to tackle environmental issues and avoid complications and delays, contact Landpoint today.

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The Biggest Permitting Issues That Arise in Oil and Gas Projects

Oil and Gas SurveyingWhen planning a new oil and gas project, it’s very important that you educate yourself about the permit issues that you might run into along the way. While there are many different permitting issues that could arise, all of these can be boiled down into two main factors: wasted time and wasted money.

Wasted Time

As you are no doubt aware, oil and gas projects operate according to a strict schedule. When a permit issue appears unexpectedly, companies will find themselves putting a stop to things while they wait for the needed permits to come through. This could end up setting the project back weeks, which could in turn have a ripple effect that greatly disturbs the rest of the project schedule. The only way to avoid unexpected sources of wasted time is by planning ahead and making sure that your company knows about any perspective permit issues before they become problems.

Wasted Money

Just like oil and gas surveying projects have to adhere to strict timelines, they also have to adhere to strict budgets. Oil and gas companies that don’t take the time to familiarize themselves with all of the permitting issues they might face before the project begins risk going significantly over their budgets, which could in turn affect what the company is and is not able to do going into the future. This is another reason why it’s important for oil and gas businesses to look into potential permitting issues as early as possible.

What Types Of Permitting Issues Should Oil And Gas Companies Be Worried About?

Oil and gas companies are subject to a variety of state and federal regulations regarding what they can and can’t do. While some states may require a particular type of permit, others may not.  On top of this, the turnaround time for permits can vary greatly and some permits can take well over a year to obtain.

Here are a couple major permits that we have seen oil and gas companies have issues with:

404 Permit

A 404 Permit, named for Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act, is something that all companies must obtain before pursuing a project that might affect bodies of water such as wetlands. To be more specific, the regulation limits the discharging of potentially harmful dredged or fill material into bodies of water.

In order to receive a permit to proceed with a project that requires the discharge of such material into a body of water, an organization must be able to demonstrate to the EPA that there is no practical alternative available that would be less damaging to the aquatic environment, and that the damage to the water would be limited as much as possible during the project. Gathering and presenting this kind of information takes time, so it’s important to know whether or not you need this permit in advance.

Louisiana Natural and Scenic Rivers System Permit

A good example of a permit required by state regulations can be found in Louisiana. A company must secure one of these permits before beginning an oil and gas project that might affect any of the scenic waterways listed on the Louisiana Scenic Rivers Act.

Working with a professional land surveying company that has certified environmentalists is the best way to ensure that your company is aware of all the possible permit issues that apply to your project. With this knowledge, you can ensure that these issues don’t stand in the way of you completing your oil and gas project successfully. Contact Landpoint today to learn more about what our oil and gas surveying knowledge and experience can do for you.

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How a Land Surveyor Can Make Pipeline Construction Projects Less Expensive

pipeline developmentWhile using pipelines is the most cost-effective way to transport oil and gas across long distances – that does not mean that it’s not important to save money on the pipeline cost per mile when you can. On the contrary: pipeline construction projects usually represents a significant capital cost for oil and gas companies, so it’s always a good idea to identify saving opportunities. In this post, we’re going to discuss why a quality land surveying company can serve as one of these saving opportunities.

What factors drive up a pipeline’s cost per mile?

In order to cut down on the cost of your pipeline construction project, you must first identify what factors lead to high costs in the first place. According to the report “The Challenges of Further Cost Reductions for New Supply Options” by employees from the International Energy Agency and CEDIGAZ, capital expenses usually account for about 90 percent of the cost of transmission pipelines. As a result, it’s very important to identify potential sources of cost before you begin your pipeline development project.

According to the same report referenced above, the key determinants of cost in a pipeline development project are diameter, operating pressures, distance and terrain. The first three factors are usually determined by circumstances that are beyond your control; however, you do have complete control over what terrain you build your pipeline through. As a result, paying attention to terrain and obstacles up front may be the most effective way of ensuring efficiency and identifying possible cost savings for your pipeline development project.

How can you find the right terrain for your pipeline construction project?

While finding the right route to build your pipeline might seem like a no brainer, it’s something that’s definitely easier said than done. As pipeline right of ways have grown more and more congested, oil and gas companies have been forced to become more selective about where they build their pipelines. In addition, things like freeway crossings and rough terrain can lead to higher pipeline construction costs. As a result, oil and gas companies need to find terrain that avoids these obstacles as much as possible.

How can a land surveying company help?

In order to identify terrain that might be a good location for your pipeline development project, you can’t rely on guesswork or intuition. You need to have actual insights about what types of obstacles might be included with a particular terrain. This is where GIS mapping tools from a land surveying company can help. These tools can help you identify and avoid obstacles such as sudden terrain changes, chasms, and other rough terrain

Why 3D Scanning is Critical to Building Information Modeling

3d-laser-scanningWhile 3D laser scanning has been used in various surveying capacities for many years, it has only been recently that companies have begun to apply it to Building Information Modeling. As both hardware and software have become more capable, applying 3D laser scanning to BIM has become more practical in a wider range of settings.

Why applying 3D laser scanning to BIM makes sense

The value that 3D laser scanning can add to the BIM process is really quite clear: whether you’re scanning existing construction in order to plan updates or improvements, or scanning terrain in advance of new construction, using lasers to create BIM models allows you to optimize the BIM process, reduce the amount of project risk your company takes on, and reduce the cost and time to completion for the project.

In addition, converting your laser scanning point clouds into object-based BIM models opens up an entirely new set of possibilities for what you can do with that data. For instance, you can use the data to create 2D documents that are easier to share with team members and plan ahead for things like scheduling, quantities, and cost.

What is BIM, and how can it be applied?

To put it quite simply, Building Information Modeling is the process of creating digital representations of physical spaces. These BIM models are created using specialty scanning hardware and modeling software. BIM is important to the construction and land surveying industries because it allows companies to approach projects with a higher level of insight, since they’ll be able to view the building or landscape in question at their convenience, from a variety of different angles.

How 3D laser scanning works with BIM in Construction

With 3D laser scanning, a series of scanners lets off thousands of laser bursts per second and then measures the time of flight and phase shift as the laser beams return to the source in order to create a point cloud of data that provides an extremely detailed representation of the physical environment being scanned.

In order to apply your 3D laser scans to BIM in construction, you must first register multiple scans together, in order to create a full view of the building or terrain being scanned from multiple angles. Then, you can convert your point clouds into object-based BIM models using a software program or an external modeling application.

In order to get the best results from laser scanning, it is very important that you plan ahead, because the scanning process can be time consuming. In addition, you must be able to know what your objectives are in advance, and be able to describe exactly what you plan to do with the information you gather from your scan in order to get the best results possible.

How laser scanning leads to more accurate BIM models

Laser scanning takes something good and makes it even better. By providing highly detailed scans of a 3D building or terrain as it actually exists in the physical space, 3D laser scanning supports a BIM model that matches up closer with reality.

In addition to offering a more accurate model, 3D laser scanning can also offer the following benefits when applied to BIM modeling:

  • The ability to coordinate or prefabricate construction plans, saving time and cutting down on project risk
  • The ability to use quantity information to support estimation and scheduling

With the decreasing cost of hardware and software involved with conducting 3D laser scans, there is less reason than ever for companies to put off trying the new technology. Those companies that do take the time to try it will surely find that it supports a more thorough, accurate BIM experience. By partnering with a surveyor that is an expert in laser scanning and experienced in using BIM in construction, you can reduce or eliminate the time to learn about the process and receive the models you need without the headache.