Springtime in the GIS pipeline industry means one thing…a visit to Houston for Esri’s Petroleum User Group, better known as PUG. This was the 26th year that PUG has been held and over the years it has evolved from strictly being an upstream/petroleum conference to an event that is attended by upstream and midstream oil/gas professionals. Just over the past decade I have attended, the presence of pipeline operators, presentations on pipeline workflows and pure pipeline solutions has continued to grow and evolve. Midstream now represents a significant portion of the conference and we could tell that Esri is also putting a large emphasis on this sector of the energy marketplace. In a year in which commodity prices are at the lowest they’ve been in years, attendance was expected to be significantly lower. But in fact, our industry came out in force and the picture below says it all!
SSP had a great conference meeting with current clients, connecting with the Esri Natural Resources and Pipeline teams, reviewing new solutions, seeing old friends and making new connections. It’s what these conferences are really all about.
There were a couple of firsts for SSP Innovations and the PUG conference. With the new addition of the SSP Pipeline Practice…this all made sense! It was the first time SSP has attended as an organization and it was the first time SSP has presented at the conference. If you happened to miss the presentation, or could't make the conference, make sure to check it out! Lastly, it was a first time for SSP's Skye Perry to attend PUG and get inundated into the pipeline/petroleum GIS sector. After years of attending Esri partner conferences, UCs and EGUGs, it was great to have Skye in Houston for this event and to introduce him to long time pipeline colleagues.
The plenary kicked off as Esri presented a very similar message to what SSP witnessed at the partner conference, but with a heavy emphasis on workflows and deployment patterns for the energy and pipeline space. We continue to see the evolution of the Esri platform that allow organizations to provide tools for users patterned as true systems of engagements. The industry can no longer think of GIS technology as SDE and Desktop applications. Instead the focus has fully shifted to light-weight, easily deployed applications for viewing, reporting, gathering and updating pipeline data repositories. Ultimately our data, aka the system of record, needs to be accurate and available for these patterns to work, but the Esri platform shows that we can engage our data in many new ways. A majority of our time is focused on data, data, data…and most organizations are still in this mode. Its true that the industry as a whole is still entrenched in a massive effort to collect historical asset attribution and consolidate data it into our system of records. But as we look forward, the question has been answered on how we can successfully manage this data moving and how data life-cycles look like with these progressive GIS tools.
Highlights of the plenary included a presentation of the ArcGIS Pipeline Referencing toolset and showed some nice workflows to streamline data entry and data editing.
We also got a sneak peek at Insights for ArcGIS which will allow pipeline operators to have dynamic dashboard reporting, easy drop and drag analysis and powerful reporting tools within one interface. Insights allows for some nice dynamic calculations and interactive reporting between spatial and even tabular datasets. These data inputs don’t even have to all reside in SDE! I already envision some Insight configurations around ILI, CP data and pipeline summaries that mimic yearly reporting.
Other highlights included presentations from operators showing off their own Esri implementations. Howard Energy Partners showed how a one-man GIS shop could deploy Portal for ArcGIS and successfully provide internal viewing, mapping, editing and reporting tools to the organization. Another great presentation came from Gulfport Energy as they demonstrated Survey123 for ArcGIS and how they use it for field inspections and collections. I immediately see opportunities for Survey123 around pipeline centric workflows. We can all look forward to using this tool for detailed and integrated field collection activities like asset inspections, pipeline verification digs and/or maintenance activities.
The PUG conference is not only a place to preview the new tools, but it’s a good platform to understand when we can get our hands on them. One of my main goals was to understand when the ArcGIS Pipeline Referencing tools would be available for deployment and was UPDM the only option, or would PODS be compatible as well. What’s UPDM or PODS you ask?
Through the plenary, meetings with Esri and a pre-conference PODS meeting for service operators, I was able to answer these questions. Esri looks to release the APR tools for centerline and event editing in conjunction with ArcGIS Pro 1.4. It is expected that this will be released in Q4 of 2016 and hopefully we will see another glimpse of some APR features at Pipeline Week prior to the full release. As for the data models and compatibility, UPDM is going to be the core model that APR works with out of the box, but we will also have the option of configuring these new tools against PODS. The PODS board and technical committee outlined the full PODS – Next Gen model and a lighter, leaner model called PODS APR. Both models will have core centerline features that work directly with the new APR tools, but we can expect PODS APR to be the model that is much more ‘plug & play’. No hard dates were communicated for the PODS models, but I’d assume the industry should have at least two flavors to choose from for APR deployments. I’m looking forward to the continued development of these data models and seeing Esri pipeline toolsets working directly with them in the not too distant future.
Overall, it was another great conference and one that I circle on the calendar every year. It’s not only an opportunity to reconnect, but it’s a platform for GIS users in the pipeline space to see new tools/deployment options and collaborate on how we can work towards common goals. If we didn’t catch you at PUG, SSP looks forward to seeing you in San Diego for Esri’s UC or back in Houston for Pipeline Week!