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Enhancing Fate and Transport Modeling with GIS

Enhancing Fate and Transport Modeling with GIS

As we continue with our series on Effectively Managing Pipeline Regulatory Requirements with applications and methodologies grounded in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), today we are covering how this technology can be employed for scenarios we prefer not to imagine within the Oil and Gas industry. That's right, we are going to dive in to Fate and Transport Modeling.

If you think back, you will remember that the rules by which the pipeline industry is governed have evolved over the years based on the good and - most importantly - the bad. Circumstances like oil spills, leaks, etc. are not scenarios we enjoy thinking about, but they are situations that must be prepared for should they ever occur. Applying GIS technology to the approach companies take to better plan for such events allows us to answer questions like...

What is the worst-case scenario if a release were to happen? What are the impacts on High Consequence Areas (HCA)? What preventative measures can be taken to reduce impact?

Based on work we have done with clients, we have a solution that will help you get answers to these questions in record time.

What Matters Most in Fate and Transport Modeling

Fate and Transport - also known as Overland Flow - Modeling is the prediction of the movement, extent, and time taken for an uncontrolled release from a pipeline to travel over the ground surface, seep into the soil matrix, and reach conduits to transport. Typically, modeling this scenario is the first step in an Oil and Gas or pipeline company's Emergency Response Planning approach as it is allows engineers to adjust pipeline valve placement in order to reduce or restrict High Consequence Area (HCA) impacts.

To attain the closest possible outcome to real-world circumstances, parameters involved in this model should include:

  • Terrain and Typography
  • Drainage Systems
  • Barriers and Conduits to Flow
  • Fluid Properties
  • Operating Conditions
  • Potential Release Volume
  • Emergency Response Time

The elevation, land cover, and other surface variables all play an important role in how far spills are allowed to flow and how quickly they are absorbed. Likewise, the drainage systems - both natural and man-made - further enhance the study area and impact. Both barriers and conduits to flow help you further highlight those factors that might impede or encourage flow.

The remainder of these parameters will differ based on the company, pipeline, and resource. However, that does not lessen their importance. By knowing these operation properties and the average time of response, you can develop a model scenario as realistic as possible.

Application of Model Results

Solutions like Integrated Offsite allow you to better model these scenarios, providing your team with potential spill areas. As shown below, results can be displayed in Alignment Sheets or any method of your choosing - showcasing spill areas, points along the line at risk, and much more.

Once you have this information, what can you do with it? It would benefit companies to further apply Fate and Transport Modeling outcomes to High Consequence Area (HCA) Analysis, Emergency Response Planning, Pipeline Risk Assessment, and Valve Replacement and Configuration. These models may also be used for Public Awareness and Consultation during the planning stage and beyond.

The application of Overland Flow Modeling is up to the company. However, the completion of the models themselves are made much easier and flexible with Geographic Information System (GIS) technology - including Integrated Offsite - and methodologies.


Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we explore these things in our latest series on effectively managing pipeline regulatory requirements with the help of Geographic Information Systems (GIS)! The links below will be updated as these posts become available.

About This Series:

This series explores the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and applications to better manage pipeline regulations, especially within the Natural Resources and Emergency Response sectors.

  • Week 1 - Effectively Managing Pipeline Regulatory Requirements with GIS
  • Week 2 - Identifying Regulatory Hurdles in the Pipeline Industry
  • Week 3 - Better Administering Integrity Management Programs with GIS
  • Week 4 - Field Development Planning with GIS
  • Week 5 - Enhancing Fate and Transport Modeling with GIS
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