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  • Writer's pictureThomas Nelan

Conducting GIS-Driven Environmental Impact Assessments In The Energy Industry

As the global demand for energy increases, so does the need for responsible exploration and production of oil and gas resources.

To ensure that operations are conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, it is essential to conduct environmental impact assessments (EIA).

In this GDDM guide, we will explore how GIS can be used to conduct EIAs in the energy industry. Specifically, we'll cover what GIS is, how it is used, and why it is important for conducting successful EIAs.

What Is GIS?

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computer system used to store, manage, analyze, and display spatial data. GIS applications are used in many industries, including energy, engineering, surveying, and defense.

In simple terms, GIS store, analyses, and display spatial data on a map. This allows users to identify patterns and trends that can be used for decision-making purposes—especially in the context of environmental impact assessments.

What Is an Environmental Impact Assessment?

An environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a process that evaluates the likely environmental impacts of proposed activities on the environment. It is often used to identify potential environmental impacts before they occur so that measures can be taken to reduce or eliminate them.

EIAs are conducted in many industries and are an important part of environmental protection. In the oil and gas industry, EIAs involve assessing the potential impacts of exploration, production, and refining activities on the environment.

How Can GIS Help with EIAs?

GIS can be an invaluable tool for performing EIAs in the oil and gas industry for several key reasons, including:

1. Data Visualization Enables Faster Impact Identification

GIS applications can be used to generate maps that show the geographical area under consideration and identify potential sources of environmental impacts (e.g., wells, pipelines, refineries).

This allows users to quickly identify potential sources of environmental impacts and assess their likely impacts in the context of the surrounding environment.

2. Accurate Analysis of Large Amounts of Data

GIS applications can be used to combine, manage, and analyze large amounts of data from multiple sources (e.g., aerial photographs) to accurately assess the potential environmental impacts of oil and gas exploration, production, and refining activities.

3. Ability to Model Different Scenarios

Digital twin applications can be used to create “what-if” scenarios that allow users to model different environmental outcomes based on changes in variables such as production rates or pipeline routes. This helps users make more informed decisions about their oil and gas activities.

4. Comprehensive Data Records Ensure Compliance

GIS applications can be used to generate comprehensive data records that are required for regulatory compliance. This ensures that oil and gas operators are following the necessary environmental regulations when conducting their activities.

In short, GIS applications offer numerous benefits for performing EIAs in the oil and gas industry, from data visualization to scenario modelling. By leveraging the power of GIS, oil and gas operators can more accurately assess the potential environmental impacts of their operations—helping them comply with regulations and protect the environment.

Getting Started With GIS-Driven EIAs: An Overview

GIS-driven EIA’s may be powerful tools, but they aren't necessarily easy to implement. Here's a quick overview of the process:

  1. Identify the Geographical Area for the EIA

  2. Create a GIS Map of the Area

  3. Collect & Incorporate Environmental Data

  4. Analyze Data for Potential Environmental Impacts

Now, let's look at each of these steps in more detail.

1. Identify the Geographical Area for the EIA

The first step in any GIS-driven EIA is to identify the geographical area for the assessment. This can include areas where activities are planned, existing operations, and potential impacts on nearby communities.

Creating a detailed map of the area is essential, as it will provide an overview of the environment and allow you to identify potential sources of environmental impacts.

2. Creating a GIS Map of the Area

Once you've identified the geographical area for your EIA, you can create a GIS map of the area. This involves collecting spatial data such as:

● Elevation and bathymetry data

● Location of objects

● Platforms, pipelines & other infrastructure

● License boundaries

GIS maps can be used to identify potential areas of environmental impact as well as sites for further investigation.

3. Collect & Incorporate Environmental Data

The next step is to collect and incorporate environmental data into your GIS map. The data you collect will depend on a range of factors (e.g., location, purpose, regulation, etc.).

That said, you may need to collect data on:

● Water quality

● Wildlife and marine fauna

Data points in these categories are standard inputs for environmental impact assessments, so it's important to collect as much relevant data as possible. And as you're incorporating this data into your GIS map, make sure to practice good data quality control by validating, verifying, and cleaning data points according to industry best practices.

At GDDM, we regularly see errors in data points that were not properly checked before being incorporated into GIS maps when clients hire our data management services. This not only limits the accuracy of your analysis but can also lead to costly mistakes.

4. Analyze Data for Potential Environmental Impacts

Once you have collected and incorporated environmental data into your GIS map, you can begin to analyze the data for potential environmental impacts.

GIS-driven EIAs allow users to identify areas where impacts are most likely, as well as simulate scenarios that will help them make informed decisions about how best to manage potential risks and impacts.

These simulations can be used to examine the potential impacts of proposed activities on air and water quality, wildlife populations, and land use, as well as how these impacts may interact with existing environmental conditions in the region.

Make the Most of GIS-Driven EIAs with GDDM

GIS technology has revolutionized the way environmental impact assessments are conducted. With GIS-driven EIAs, oil and gas companies can gain valuable insights into potential environmental risks before they become a problem.

At GDDM, we understand the importance of properly executed GIS-driven EIAs. That's why we provide GIS data management services to help you identify potential environmental impacts, mitigate risks, and make informed decisions about the development of your projects.

Contact us today to find out more.


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