Four Environmental Review Issues That Come up During Oil and Gas Projects

Environmental Review, Oil and Gas surveyingFor oil and gas companies, making sure that their projects comply with all pertinent environmental regulations is of the utmost importance. In addition to demonstrating good corporate citizenship, looking out for possible environmental problems in advance is necessary in order to avoid possible delays and reroutes once the project has already started.

Oil and gas projects are unique when it comes to environmental compliance because they tend to cover large areas and multiple jurisdictions with different sets of regulations. As a result, it can be helpful to work with an environmental consulting firm that understands the unique challenges that oil and gas companies face involving environmental regulations.

Read on to learn about a few of the environmental issues your oil and gas project may encounter.

1. Endangered species

Animal life is an important part of the areas where we live and work. Therefore, it’s important to find a way to implement your oil and gas project without threatening the most vulnerable members of the animal community.

In many cases, an endangered species will only live in a certain area. If your project team is not familiar with the wildlife in that area, they might not be aware of the presence of endangered species and the regulations that often accompany them. Educating your team about endangered species and helping you come up with a plan that accounts for them is one of the most important services an environmental review firm can perform for an oil and gas company.

2. Wetlands building regulations

Wetlands serve as important habitats for a wide variety of plant and animal life, so it’s no surprise that government agencies have taken steps to protect them. If your oil and gas project requires you to build in or around a wetland area, it’s vital that you take steps to obtain the necessary permits far in advance. The process of securing such a permit can take anywhere from six to 18 months. If you’re ready to start your project but don’t have the necessary permits, there typically is no other choice than to shut down the project and wait.

The US Army Corps of Engineers is solely responsible for the entire wetlands permitting process. When you receive your permit depends entirely upon the USACE’s schedule. As a result, this is definitely not something you’d want to leave until the last minute.

3. State water regulations

While the federal wetlands regulations can be difficult to navigate, state regulations around protected bodies of water are a different concept altogether. If your oil and gas project passes through multiple states, you would be beholden to a different jurisdiction for each individual state and would therefore have to follow multiple sets of regulations for protected bodies of water.

In addition to knowing which bodies of water are protected in each state, you’d also need to know what types of regulations and permits each state has established. Working with an experienced environmental consulting firm can help simplify this process.

4. Archaeological and historical sites

There’s history everywhere you look, and that includes your project site. It’s one thing to plan around known historical and archaeological sites, but there are always going to be undiscovered sites hidden below the surface that you can’t predict or plan for.

If one of these sites should turn up in the course of your project work, it’s important that you have a backup plan in place to keep your project progressing without disturbing the site.

Landpoint for environmental consulting services

If you need an environmental consulting firm to help you navigate the complexities outlined here, Landpoint can help. Review some examples of our environmental consulting work or download our eBook “How a Land Surveyor Can Provide Extra Value to Your Oil and Gas Project” to learn more.

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A Look at How Shared Data Helps Oil and Gas Projects

Oil and Gas SurveyingWe are living in an era when new technologies such as cloud computing and big data are completely changing the way industries operate, and oil and gas surveying is certainly no exception. In fact, the oil and gas industry is particularly well suited to benefit from these technologies: as oil and gas drilling has become more complex over the years due to increased activity and crowded pipeline rights of way, big data has made it possible for oil and gas engineers to operate more intelligently and continue meeting their production goals. At the same time, cloud computing has been influential in ensuring that all employees working on a project have access to the same data. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of shared data on the cloud for oil and gas projects in more detail.

Covering Long Distances

Globalization is becoming the norm in business today, and it’s no longer unusual to see project teams spread out over long distances. However, this has always been the case with oil and gas projects; drilling, refining, and shipping have always taken place in different locations, and pipelines have always been needed to cover those long distances.

Now, with cloud data solutions, all oil and gas employees can gain access to a technology that allows them to share project and survey data with their colleagues, no matter where in the world those colleagues might be located. The data transfer can happen instantaneously, so the distances between office and field workers practically melt away to nothing.

Ensuring Accuracy and Version Control

Other forms of communication and data sharing, such as email, aren’t as effective as cloud-based sharing, specifically because they aren’t centralized. When you have a large team that’s spread out geographically, it’s important that everyone be on the same page, and working with the latest and most accurate data.

A cloud based data sharing platform provides this centralization. Any time a team member shares a survey document or other piece of data with a team member, it’s also made available for everyone else on the team to see. As circumstances change over time, having this centralized platform in place makes it easier for everyone to feel confident that they always have the right data in hand. If there’s every a question about what data they should be using, a team member need only access the data sharing platform, and they’ll instantly be able to pull up a record of the most recent data.

A data sharing platform also serves as an archive for important historical data. In the event that a user ever needs to look back at data from earlier in the project, the data sharing platform gives them that capability as well.

Universal Access

Another important reason that cloud data sharing platforms can help with oil and gas projects is that they can be accessed from anywhere, on any device. Team members working in the field using mobile devices will have access to the exact same platform that their colleagues in the office using traditional workstations will. The data that’s placed on the platform can be saved and accessed equally on both sets of devices.

This means that office workers will always be able to transfer standard operating procedures and other important project information to workers in the field, while those field workers will be able to instantly transfer survey data from the site back to the engineers in the office who need that data in order to get started with their work. The universal nature of a cloud data sharing platform can encourage better communication and speed up key aspects of the project.

To learn more about cloud data sharing for oil and gas surveying, contact Landpoint today.

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How Oil and Gas Surveying Will Change in 2015

Oil and Gas SurveyingIn the early days of 2015, the oil and gas industry finds itself at a crossroads: external forces are in play, creating a situation where companies have to get accurate, detailed land surveys quickly, without having to pay too much for them. Those companies that can ensure the most affordability and value possible from their oil and gas surveying will be the ones that are in the best position to succeed in 2015 and beyond.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at the future of oil and gas industry and provide a quick overview of some of the ways that land surveying is changing the industry in 2015.

Three ways that oil and gas surveying will change in 2015

1. The surveying technology that companies use will grow more sophisticated.

Whenever an industry faces new challenges, there will always be new technologies available to help companies overcome those challenges. This is certainly true of the future of the oil and gas industry. In order to meet their needs for faster, more accurate land surveys at the most affordable rate possible, today’s oil and gas companies have a number of increasingly sophisticated tools in their toolbox. These include things like cloud-based systems for better communication, collaboration, and storage, advanced handheld devices to facilitate better connections between home offices and job sites, and unmanned aerial vehicles to make it easier and safer to conduct land surveys on remote or dangerous terrain.

Although these solutions are available for all oil and gas organizations, only the ones that make an effort to integrate them into their regular business processes will truly benefit from the opportunities they present.

2. Oil and gas companies will need to make turnaround time a priority.

Getting a complete and accurate land survey is a prerequisite for beginning any new project in the field. Without the completed survey, projects will have to be delayed, which costs time and money for everyone involved: that’s why it’s so important to be able to turn these surveys around quickly.This has always been the case for as long as there has been an oil and gas industry, but in 2015—when the need for value is the greatest it has ever been, and the technology needed to create that value is readily available for anyone to apply—continuing to turn out slow land surveys is simply no longer acceptable.

In 2015, oil and gas companies will focus on making quick land surveys an established part of their organizational culture. This means adopting new technologies and implementing new processes to ensure that delays are avoided as much as possible.

3. The accuracy of land surveys will reverberate throughout the entire construction process.

Most oil and gas leaders understand that accurate land surveys are important, but just how important are they really, particularly in 2015? The accuracy of a land survey affects everything that a company does after it, from the pre-project planning to the actual construction of the project itself. It’s no exaggeration to say that an accurate land survey is the foundation that the entire project rests on; if there are problems with the foundation, it could result in project delays and additional costs later on in the project.

Final Thoughts on the Future of the Oil and Gas Industry

Oil and gas surveying is changing. The companies that insist on doing things the same way they’ve always done them will find themselves quickly left behind, while those that adapt to the change and ensure quick, accurate, and cost-effective land surveys will flourish. To learn how land surveying services from Landpoint could help your company succeed in 2015, contact us today.

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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What Should Oil and Gas Companies Look For in a Registered Land Surveyor?

land surveyorIn the business world, standards and regulations exist for a good reason: by creating an agreed-upon set of standards for an entire industry, everyone operating within that industry knows what to expect when it comes to hiring contractors or doing business with other companies. This can help cut down on the amount of surprises a company experiences while working on a project. This post examines the standards and regulations that you should expect from a registered land surveyor.

Standards and Regulations for Land Surveying

The oil and gas industry is filled with different standards and regulations, all of which are aimed at helping companies do business quicker, safer and more efficiently. However, in order to get the best benefits out of these regulations, you have to take the time to understand what they really mean, and how they affect your business.

This is particularly true when it comes to selecting a registered land surveyor to work with. Knowing what standards and regulations land surveyors comply with, and what those standards and regulations really mean, can help you make sure you select the right professional registered land surveyor to work with, and that can make all the difference for your project.

Land surveying standards and regulations that you should be aware of include:

  • Safety regulations
  • Drug and alcohol regulations
  • Pipeline data standards
Safety Regulations

Safety regulations for contractors in the land surveying industry are offered by a number of third party organizations, including:

  • ISNetworld
  • PEC Safety
  • PICS

While each of these different organizations functions in their own unique way, they are all alike in that they offer services for verifying the safety knowledge and compliance of oil and gas surveying professionals. These third party programs often pull from a diverse set of industry safety standards and safety regulations set by state and federal governments.

It’s important that you take a little bit of time to get to know each of these organizations to find out how they’re alike and how they differ; this will help you know exactly what each of these certifications really signifies.

Drug and Alcohol Regulations

Keeping a standard that oversees your contractors’ drug and alcohol usage can play an important role in creating a successful project with no unpleasant surprises or major safety concerns. Fortunately, National Compliance Management Service (NCMS), another third party standards organization, provides drug and alcohol auditing services that are specifically designed to help contractors live up to the expectations of their clients.

These NCMS audits establish a program that helps a contract organization put the specific drug and alcohol requirements of their client organization into practice. This program can include things like written policies, established screening methods, randomized testing, and regularly scheduled annual testing. As a result, any client that establishes a drug and alcohol monitoring program for their contractor organizations through NCMS can always be sure that they have a full and accurate understanding of what steps are being taken to ensure compliance.

Pipeline Data Standards

Pipeline data standards can help give you a better idea of the final product that your registered land surveyor will provide you. Keeping these standards open and well established helps ensure that all companies that work in the oil and gas industry will be able to deliver data to one another without having to worry about custom software programs or vendor-specific data architectures that stand in the way of the free distribution and easy use of data.

The two main pipeline data standards for the oil and gas surveying industry are the Pipeline Open Data Standard (PODS) and the ArcGIS Pipeline Data Model (APDM). These two standards should not be considered competitors; they have some similarities, but function in slightly different ways. Getting to know both of these standards is important, as it will help you select the standard that best meets your needs, and then select a registered professional land surveyor that can work within the context of that standard.

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Oil and Gas Projects: Finding a Safety-Focused Partner

pipeline land surveyingIn accordance with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Association), every worker has a right to a safe work environment. This is especially important for those in the oil and gas industry for the company as well as for their consultants and partners.

Oil and gas project safety has to be everyone’s priority regardless of job assignment, office or field. Vehicle accidents, explosions, fires, chemical exposures, confined space hazards, or employees caught in equipment may occur on rigs, in wells, or along pipelines. And, hazards that cause people to fall, trip or slip are a threat in any workplace environment.

Safety on Oil and Gas Projects: The Most Common Violations

OSHA’s General Industry Standards (29 CFR 1910), OSHA’s Construction Standards (29 CFR 1926), and General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act were enacted to protect worker health and safety in the oil and gas industry.

According to OSHA oil and gas surveys, the five most-cited violations are:

  1. Hazard Communication (HazCOM) – Negligence of OSHA requirements to provide material safety data sheets (MSDS) for all hazardous materials and chemicals, posted notifications of hazards and chemicals present, or employee training (regular safety meetings).
  2. Permitted confined spaces – Safety violations occurring in spaces with limited egress and those over 4-feet deep, including manholes, mineshafts, airshafts, wells, crawl spaces, etc.
  3. General Duty Clause (Section of the OSHA Act) – Failure of the employer to comply with OSHA standards or provide a workplace/jobsite free from recognized safety hazards that might cause death or serious physical harm to employees or employee(s) failure to comply with OSHA standards through acts and actions (including drug and alcohol abuses).
  4. PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) – Failure to comply with the OSHA requirement to provide and wear gloves, coveralls, respirators, protective head gear, safety reflective vests, ear, eye, and face protections.
  5. Wiring, Components, and Equipment – Failure to control gases under pressure that might ignite, cutting and welding near flammable or explosive materials, or poorly maintained electrical wiring or equipment.

Setting Safety Standards on Oil and Gas Projects

Studies indicate that employees who are injured are typically:

  • Male
  • Age 25-34
  • Employed less than one year
  • Struck by an object (related to parts or materials)
  • Experienced a strain or sprain to their arms, wrist, hands, or fingers
  • Off work for 31 or more days

It is important for the company to set high standards for safety early on in a project. This pertains to the employer, workplace/jobsite, employees and their behaviors that might indirectly create a hazardous environment (negligence, intoxication, addiction, anger/violence, etc.).

Explosions, oil fires, chemical spills, collapses, cave-ins, and confined space Oxygen deprivation require employee training in proper mitigation and PPE use, emergency response, site securing, and recovery operations. HazCOM enforces employees’ rights to know potential hazards, how to avoid them, and what to do in the event one occurs. Teamwork and support are equally important.

Oil and Gas Project Safety Concerns: Selecting Partners

Responsibility for safety extends to companies the oil and gas company chooses to partner with. Criteria to determine if a firm (survey, engineering, construction team) is credible, responsible, and safe include:

  • Flexibility – Is the partner willing to accept the oil and gas company’s established safety guidelines?
  • Experience/ Accreditation – Does the partner have knowledge, experience, accreditation, and a clean workplace accident record? (Generally, experienced and accredited firms tend to be “safer”).
  • Ability To Identify Potential Dangers – Is the partner cognizant of conditions that could be hazardous? (Survey Partners using GIS, for example, may identify and mitigate potential safety concerns early in the project).

The partner may additionally be evaluated based on the following desirable qualifications:

  • ISNetworld, PEC/Premier, and PICS compliant in all areas of operation
  • Demonstrated enforcement of NCMS DOT drug and alcohol compliance for personnel
  • Active personnel health and safety program including regular safety meetings

On the job site, safety and accurate end results are of paramount importance. Landpoint is 100% ISNetworld, PEC/Premier, and PICS compliant in all areas and enforces NCMS DOT drug and alcohol standards. We invite you to contact us to learn more about what we can do for your oil and gas project.

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How Cloud Computing is Revolutionizing Oil and Gas Projects

cloud computingCost cutting and improved efficiency are central to oil and gas companies. Changes in the industry, new regulations, and increased competition have companies looking at technology differently than they did even five years ago. In particular, cloud computing is revolutionizing the oil and gas industry, particularly in areas of oil and gas surveying and project management.

Cloud computing platforms can be somewhat invisible. Because they are so simple to use and make previously complicated tasks easy, it is entirely possible that the user may not realize just how much this technology is impacting their business.

The Value of Cloud Computing to the Oil and Gas Industry

Cloud computing, in general terms, is the ability to simultaneously distribute information over a computer communication network to many users. The flip side to this is the ability to access and retrievethe vast amounts of stored dataregardless of time and location.

Cloud computing is extremely popular in industry and business for the same reasons any innovation or technology is popular: improved efficiency and cost effectiveness.

This is especially useful for the oil and gas industry, which has to handle large amounts of data as well as manage multiple, often remote teams. With any oil and gas project there are a lot of moving parts, and cloud computing can be used to make these parts work more seamlessly with one another. Important data and documents can be easily accessed by those partners who are cleared to view them. Since information is available onany internet capable device, data can be uploaded from a project site and made instantly available back at regional centers or corporate headquarters.

Land Surveying and GIS Mapping via the Cloud

Quality control, connectivity, and real-time survey and drilling data are enhanced through cloud computing. Mobile devices are already used by oil land surveyors to collect data and upload it to servers. Seismic crews use wireless recording stations to ensure quality control.

Data can be collected from the field and immediately uploaded. Land surveyors collect data and cartographers in an office in the next state can interpret and map it for immediate uploading and distribution. Stored map information may be integrated into other internal systems, or used on-site by the project manager and crews.

Oil and Gas Data Management: Now in the Cloud

Project managers utilize cloud technology to query and view cross-project and multiple task data files. Historical, geological, and drilling operations data relevant to the project they are working on, can be accessed by simply logging into the cloud repository.

Using cloud technology for Oil and gas data management also makes it easy for the project manager to share pertinent information with all project stakeholders. Additionally, data can be easily cross analyzed and interpreted, leading to decisions being made and conveyed faster, thus reducing adverse impacts to the community, company, and environment. This efficiency also translates into minimization of costs associated with delays, slowdowns, catastrophes, or other unplanned interruptions.

Using cloud data also provides project managers with additional information to effectively determine critical milestones, create achievable schedules, and generate more complete reports and more informed budgets.

The cloud provides a continuous and secure flow of information from a variety of cross-disciplined experts. When oil and gas companies implement a cloud computing platform, they will see much more reliable service results while saving money at the same time.

If you are looking to use cloud technology to cut costs and increase efficiency, then try our Oil & Gas Data Management Demo for free and see what a difference it can make.

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