Landlocked Bolivia is unique among nations for many reasons, not the least of which is its wide range of terrains, climates and biodiversity, which are in turn a consequence of precipitous altitude changes within the country. From Andean glaciers to Amazonian rain forests, the country is a patchwork of varying elevations, including dozens of active and extinct volcanoes and innumerable rivers.
YPFB Transporte S.A. (YPFBT) is Bolivia’s major hydrocarbon transportation company. YPFBT operates more than 6,200 kilometers of natural gas and liquid pipelines throughout Bolivia, many of which traverse geologically active terrain that’s subject to landslides and earthquakes.
The pipelines range in size from 4 to 36 inches in diameter. Construction of some of the liquid pipelines dates back to 1955, while some of the gas pipelines were constructed as early as 1968, causing YPFBT to face challenges that typically accompany the maintenance and protection of an aging infrastructure in an inhospitable environment that includes dense vegetation, heavy rains and flooding, and mountainous terrain.
Due to the limitations of its legacy CAD drawings, YPFBT made the decision in 2009 to transition to an interactive, GIS-based mapping system. With this, the company was able to better meet the increasing requirements for data maintenance, mapping and reporting, and integrity management.
The company selected Esri’s ArcGIS following a thorough research process.
“It used to take several months of drawing updates and corrections to generate a new set of company operation maps with our old CAD-based mapping system,” said GIS specialist Giovanni Rojas, who explains that with the company’s new ArcGIS software-based mapping system and other software, now it only takes a couple of days.
YPFBT has continued to expand on its Esri technology foundation. The ArcGIS Pipeline Data Model geo-database schema has also proved to be an enormous boost to YPFBT’s GIS capabilities, since it was designed specifically for storing information specific to gas and liquid pipeline systems.
Before YPFBT moved to its new mapping system and the inline inspection (ILI) tool, anomalies detected were located by a manual chaining method so the defects could be exposed and repaired.
“Locating a defect this way was inaccurate, labor-intensive and very expensive,” said Juan Hurtado, YPFBT’s ILI operations manager, “requiring pipeline maintenance crew members to chain the site and usually several verification digs. Now, with GPS and linear referencing, we can accurately locate the underground pipeline features and defects. This means that when the ILI tool reports a defect, a crew member can easily navigate to the site and locate and mark the position for the excavation crew.”
Enhancing Field Data Collection
In 2011, YPFBT was looking for ways to build on the success it had achieved with ArcGIS. The company wanted to enhance the level of detail and integrity of its field asset data collection processes and was looking for a mobile solution that could support complex workflows through standardized forms.
“While collecting burial data for the geo-hazard risk assessment project, we encountered many undocumented reroutes and emergency works performed by maintenance crews,” said Graciela Gutierrez, risk assessment operations manager. “This emphasized the need to add accurate field data collection to our GIS-based mapping system and risk assessment in order to ensure precision and reliability.”
The detailed requirements list for the mobile solution was extensive and arrived at through a collaborative and iterative process between YPFBT office and field personnel. The solution had to support ArcGIS for Server. It would have to support relational databases using globally unique identifiers for primary and foreign keys, as well as support Oracle Spatial and SQL Server Spatial databases.
YPFBT also wanted the mobile solution to integrate directly with the ArcGIS Pipeline Data Model, because it would enable the company to manage the pipeline data in standardized format. In the end, YPFBT chose CartoPac Mobile from Esri Partner CartoPac International of Fort Collins, CO. The solution’s GPS-enabled data capture process was designed specifically to map, inventory and manage field assets with high accuracy. It allowed field teams to use intelligent, configurable workflow forms running on mobile devices to standardize the asset inventory efforts across all the field teams.
YPFBT began implementation of its mobile solution with a pilot program focused on field data collection related to class location and high-consequence areas. Prior to initiating the 2011 pilot program, YPFBT personnel attended an in-depth training program on the solution to build competence in building, modifying and managing their own workflow solutions.
The objective of the pilot program was to capture field asset data in two districts over the course of three months, evaluating the solution for accuracy, ease of use and reliability. The results of the pilot program were a success, and in early 2012, full implementation began. The scalable architecture will eventually support a growing number of mobile users from the Maintenance, Cathodic Protection and Coating departments.
YPFBT’s expansion into mobile technology was methodical and precise. This extensive, inclusionary selection process resulted in an enterprise approach to defining YPFBT’s mobile asset management needs, extending and building on top of the company’s GIS system.
For further information, call Mario Haderspock España, senior pipeline integrity manager of Maintenance Management, YPFB Transporte S.A., office: 591-3-356-6772 or cell: 591-721-01587.