Friday, May 4, 2012

GIS Applications in Energy Industries

The unstoppable demand as well as the continuous site discoveries has made it extremely necessary for the energy corporations to have an effective reliable mapping system for the energy and mining sources around the planet. Such mapping help the energy enterprises manage different aspects of their business such as logistics, energy saving, planning, engineering, etc., to achieve higher process efficiencies.

GIS in Oil & Gas industry

Role of GIS in petroleum industry

For oil companies, it is necessary to count on reliable exploration systems to discover new oil sources ahead of competitors. In these days, among the main systems types used are GIS based systems.

GIS systems advantage arises form their ability to relate information captured by different collection methods, such as satellite imagery, aerial photo mosaics, surface geological studies, etc., to actual locations on interactive maps, which helps to perform further analyses to evaluate further potential [1].

Petroleum companies nowadays have the advantage of access to such technology, which enables them to manage the main aspect of their industry including, leases, facilities, pipelines, etc. They are also able to effectively integrate such a management system with the various technical analyses held across the whole enterprise.

Natural Gas pipelines

Apart from the GIS role in exploration of the potential sources of oil and gas, it now plays important roles in other processes down the line. For example; a current popular application is the design and management of the Natural Gas pipelines.

As the population counts rise, the cities become larger everyday. This makes the process of implementing the infrastructures even more complicated. One of the main infrastructure parts is the natural gas pipeline [2]. Now, GIS systems are used to design, plan, implement the new gas pipelines. Afterwards, the GIS systems are used to manage the pipelines including maintenance planning, logistical planning, emergency preparedness, etc. [3]

Disaster Management

The oil and gas industry is very sensitive to the changes in production rates around the world since the price can change due to the slightest decrease in the supply and consequently affect the entire global economy.

This is why there was a need to establish reliable disaster management systems that can help reduce the losses in case of disasters.

In response to that need, GIS based systems were developed to help the oil and gas corporations to asses the risks of natural disasters such as hurricanes, or other disasters such as oil spills [1]. Such systems help the companies and governments to build their plans to overcome the crises and minimize the losses.

The figure below shows the oil production in relationship to the path of the Hurricane Katrina [1].

Oil production in relationship to the path of Hurricane Katrina

GIS in renewable energy

In response to the high rates of consumption of conventional energy resources such as oil and gas as well as continuous rise in global awareness towards the environmental protection initiatives, the need for alternative renewable energy resources emerged.

GIS systems have proven to be very useful to the renewable energy industry since it helps locate and utilize the renewable energy resources’ sites.

The main use of GIS in this particular field is to predict, to high levels of accuracy, the potential areas for high wind energy sources and the best sites for placing the wind farms and their optimum distribution. Even after installation GIS systems help manage and maintain the wind energy networks.

GIS systems can also use the above-mentioned predictions to analyze the cost effectiveness of wind farms, which saves the investor companies a huge amount of work and money to actually perform the analysis on site. [1]
Similarly to the case of wind energy, GIS can be used to map the possible investments in solar energy units. Solar energy is the most popular and of the most wasted energy forms in the world and if utilized could be a strong competitor to fossil fuels.

The GIS based systems can help experts predict the solar radiation and required design aspects to build the cells and plant them in the right positions as well as also identifying the most efficient sites for solar cells’ investments. [1]

GIS can also be utilized in industries that include other forms of renewable energy such as biomass energy or geothermal energy.


2. “Application of GIS Technique To Natural Gas Pipeline Management”, Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium Proceedings, 1998. IGARSS '98. 1998 IEEE International


  1. Thanks for this post & all the gis applications information.

  2. Really great post here! Your blog contains unique and fresh content about GIS.

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