On January 26, 2015 5:16 pm
Finalists for the 3rd Annual 2015 Rocky Mountain, Gulf Coast, and Northeast Oil & Gas Awards were recently announced on January 13th. Additionally, the Oil & Gas Awards also honor companies in the Southwest, West Coast, Midcontinent, and Canada regional divisions by presenting awards to companies working in the shale oil and gas industry in areas ranging from environmental stewardship to health and safety to technology.
In the fall of last year, TEEMCO (Total Energy and Environmental Management Company), a professional environmental engineering firm, providing solutions to the shale oil and gas, agriculture, and marine industries won the Oil & Gas Awards Midcontinent 2014 New Technology Development of the Year Award – Software Application for an application called AVITER (Automated Virtual Inventor Tracking and Emergency Response).
TEEMCO is viewed as an ally for land, air, and water and has helped thousands of shale oil and gas producers with ever-changing environmental regulations, allowing for increased production, while serving the environment. The shale oil and gas industry is where the company began its core market.
What sets TEEMCO apart to win awards like the Oil & Gas Awards, is its considerable environmental technological advances. Greg Lorson, CEO, TEEMCO, explained, “We are a very technology driven company. We take a lot of pride in bringing state-of-the-art technology to the table. We have a saying: 21st century technology for 21st century regulations. We create not only higher quality, but also the most efficient products that also reduce costs and improve compliance.”
Lorson likes to ask the question, ‘What drives regulation?’ and then facilitate solutions. One of those solutions revolved around crude oil spills and led to the birth of AVITER, an application that took over five years to develop. Here is a look at this award winning application, what prompted its development, and how it works.
In 2013 alone (2014 data has not been released yet), over 400,000 car loads of crude oil were transported by rail and over 1.15 million gallons were spilled. In the last 30 years, spills have accounted for 50,000 gallons of crude oil in various waterways. Just one gallon of crude oil can contaminate one million gallons of water. Those 50,000 gallons were not concentrated in one location, but if they were they could fill Niagara Falls. Even with more pipelines, the demand for rail car transport is increasing. The United States rise in domestic shale oil and gas production has created both economic opportunities and challenges.
The law requires oil spill prevention and emergency response plans for any place that crude oil is stored or transported through, which includes rail cars and transport trucks. Any spill that does occur requires a significant amount of personal, manpower, and resources. This includes having in place items such as first responders, local fire stations, and hazmat response teams along with knowing the local terrain and the distance to the nearest waterways. For instance, first responders, such as fire, medical, and police, need to be identified, along with mechanical responders, who may be bringing in back hoes or cranes to move equipment. In addition, the material spilled would need identified. All of this information needs to be known in advance as a written plan per law.
Preparing an oil spill emergency response plan for a stationary object is relatively straightforward, since it is easy to access terrain and local responders. However with a moving object, it is impossible to predict the time, date, or location of the spill. There are literally millions of contingencies that need to be considered as a train or truck travels across the country, since every few miles the terrain, distance to water, and emergency responders changes. Lorson relayed, “The emergency response plans currently being used by the industry are basically just general words on paper; not meaningful, executable plans. Preparing a meaningful and effective spill response plan that meets the legal requirements has been a near impossibility.”
AVITER addressed and alleviated this problem. Lorson expressed, “The only way to have a meaningful plan and accomplish this for a moving object is to use 21st century technology. That was the birth of AVITER, a game changer for the industry.” AVITER tracks the movement of any cargo, calculates the changing contingencies, and automatically prepares and maintains a meaningful and effective spill plan in real-time.
The state-of-the-art technology tracks the precise GPS location through a device that is around the size of a cigarette lighter. It auto creates in real-time a data base that updates itself with all vital components of a spill plan based on a vehicle’s location. Mile by mile, it watches the local terrain, monitors weather conditions, locates the nearest waterways, and finds the closest fire departments, hospitals, and hazmat response teams. Lorson related, “It is an intelligent system, like Google Maps, but on steroids.”
By constantly calculating the vehicle’s azimuth, the system also knows if a vehicle is upright or on its side. Since AVITER knows if a vehicle is at 90 degrees or 180 degrees to the horizon, it can predict the precise location and time of a spill. This is accomplished by monitoring the angle of the vehicle as it travels. For example, at 90 degrees the train is upright. At 180 degrees, it already fell. Keep in mind, vehicles will naturally lean as they travel, but once they lean too far and reach the point of no return, 20 degrees for example, the vehicle is falling and a spill is eminent.
AVITER knows there will be a spill before it reaches the ground. Lorson explained, “At 20 degrees, AVITER writes the spill plan and notifies everyone before the vehicle reaches the ground.” AVITER instantly notifies TEEMCO’s Emergency Command Center and simultaneously prepares a spill plan with all the vitals and legally required information for a meaningful and effective spill and emergency response. Thus, allowing the company to react without any delay, saving both lives and property.
Once the spill occurs, AVITER becomes the primary management tool for response. The nearest first responders and hazmat teams are immediately dispatched. State and federal agencies are notified. AVITER also tracks emergency responders in real time and can view them instantly through security cameras.
During a spill incident, AVITER monitors weather conditions. The system performs spill dispersion models for liquids that tell responders when and where the spill will flow. In addition, the system performs plume dispersion modeling for vapors which shows when and where any hazardous smoke or gases will travel. Company managers can respond with real time information and manage emergency response as conditions unfold.
In addition, AVITER has a built-in database that can access any chemical storage records in that zone, along with any building, school, and nursing home floor plans via public records and private contracts. Lorson expressed, “This is the only technology of its kind for this use that is automatic and real-time. AVITER is virtual and accurately proactive, telling its users what to do. To serve our clients, we look for problems and make solutions. AVITER takes everything into account from a gas cloud or material spill to an evacuation zone in order to mitigate and prevent the loss of life and property through all stages from emergency management, preparation/planning, response, and rebuilding/recovery.”
Lorson says to picture a train or truck traveling across the U.S. from North Dakota to a refinery in Philadelphia. “No one knows when or where a derailment may occur. There are a million different scenarios. With our 21st century technology, AVITER can write a spill plan in real time. AVITER empowers responders to react immediately and proactively minimize the effects of a spill and the threat to life, the environment, and property. This is only one of TEEMCO’s awarded technological innovations and the next generation of global compliance automation,” relayed Lorson.
Shale Media Group (SMG) is the news, information, and education resource dedicated to the shale oil and gas industries by messaging across video, Internet, publications, events, and radio. For more, check out ShaleMediaGroup.com to access all platforms, including SMG’s latest news delivery system–Shale Energy Business Briefing (SEBB), an ad-free subscription based service, where subscribers receive a real-time, daily email, featuring concise, hard hitting shale news 7 days/week, 365 days/year. To sign up, go to sebb.us. Kristie Kubovic is the Director of Communications at Shale Media Group. Contact her at Kristie@ShaleMediaGroup.com.