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5 ways to increase the value of GIS (for Oil and Gas)

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5 ways to increase the value of GIS (for Oil and Gas)

There is an excellent 50 page free ebook from Exprodat explaining in detail “Why use GIS in Petroleum”.

To borrow a quote:

“Spatial analysis lies at the core of GIS – the ability to analyse data based on its spatial relationship to other data sets. This analysis capability is unique to GIS, and in general is not found in more ‘traditional’ E&P mapping software.”

If you are already a GIS user or just thinking about using GIS I have some thoughts on 5 things that you could consider which might add value to your investment in GIS. These are not in any order of importance.

  1. GIS data is highly changeable.

There is a danger of falling into the trap that a GIS is static. You get your data, you leave it and you perform the analysis you have always performed and get the results you always got. It does not have to take too much effort to maintain correct data. Any data that you are using for modelling and making decisions needs to be checked regularly.

I am not sure whether the claim that 80% of data has a spatial component is true or not. What if 1/3 of data has a spatial component though, that is still a great deal of data. Data is constantly being created. And then there is metadata. Data changes.

  1. Open source

If you don’t have a copy of an open source GIS on your computer and you are handling shapefiles or KML or TIFs, why not? You are missing out on a massive resource. Go to OSGeo4W as a good starting point.

A very good overview comparing a proprietary GIS and an open source GIS is here

  1. Reduce replication, increase automation

Data replication can lead to inconsistencies and a reduction in productivity. Whether you are a small company with a handful of employees, a company with one office or a large multinational company spread around the world, someone has to own that data. It is worth reading the article below about enterprise GIS systems, its focus is on vision and leadership in GIS. Without this focus and leadership data replication is going to be a big problem.


Also, don’t forget to automate. Automation means reducing repetitive tasks. The model builder in ArcGIS Desktop or Graphical Modeler in QGIS would be a great starting point, moving onto scripting (Python probably) when the limitations are reached. Automation will only be successful with good QA/QC procedures, no point in speeding something up that doesn’t deliver the correct results in the first place.

  1. Increase visibility

GIS is not a new technology. GIS is not a new technology in the Oilfield. Hundreds of people attend the PUG events worldview. Is GIS a niche technology? Or is GIS a niche technology within your organisation? The best way to find out is to engage with as many people as possible. But how? Too often GIS skills are confined in silos. Perhaps we could…

  • Change the focus: as GIS professionals we need to look at non GIS professionals more (geologists, geophysicists, project managers). What do they want?
  • If GIS can solve a problem (especially one that seems unsolvable to someone) or influence a decision, then communicating this success is vital. This comes down to great internal marketing.

5. Keep learning

The most obvious one is to keep on learning, it is true for whatever we do in life. Being responsible for your own learning is the key. There are plenty of free GIS resources. ESRI has just made (for its customers) a huge amount of material available for free.



Youtube has hundreds of GIS videos, blogs, ask a question on stackoverflow. Want to learn more about programming? Try here

After writing this I realised that these 5 things are not limited to GIS in the Oil and Gas sector, or even just GIS. It is applicable to all working life, in fact I could rewrite the list like this.

  • Everything is changeable
  • There are always alternatives
  • Improve your productivity
  • Look around and share
  • Have a thirst for knowledge

Want to learn more about GIS and EO for Oil and Gas? Then my page contains all my blogs, plus case studies and links

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