The integration and implementation of the geographic information system (GIS) has become mandatory under the Digital India initiative for all utilities under the purview of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board. A GIS system, designed to meet the needs of gas utilities, can improve operational efficiency, and customer service, and help the utilities in maintaining a competitive advantage.
GIS technology and data tools are an important part of the city gas distribution business processes, starting from network planning, engineering, operations and maintenance to complete management of network assets. It is used to obtain information on the area of the pipeline network, depth of the pipe buried, gas pressure, diameter of the pipe, leaks and maintenance, etc. collected through surveys and mapping. GIS adds value to the CGD business by facilitating integration with other business applications. Integrating GIS with mainstream CGD operations leads to improved analysis, visualisation and network planning, and informed decision-making.
GIS has a wide range of applications in the CGD business. It can help plan the pipeline network expansion through surveys and mapping, and assess the future demand growth projections. GIS can be used for route planning to ensure maximum reach with minimum pipeline length and reduce the network design time. GIS can help prepare the thematic layers of building construction, the pipeline network, third-party cables, etc. These systems are also used in CGD networks for locating pipelines and regulating equipment.
GIS helps in asset management by locating pipeline assets such as main and service lines by tracking their coordinates and calculating their relative distances. GIS is used to calculate gas pressure, inlet quantity and pipe diameter. It is also used to generate maps showing various design parameters at all nodes and lines. In addition, it provides information regarding construction material for piping.
GIS provides reliable geospatial and location information on underground utility lines, which is useful in avoiding excavation damages. GIS can interact with pipe corrosion detection systems, and identify unprotected and exposed pipes. This allows utilities to undertake timely repair and replacement of utility lines with the help of locational data. It offers flexibility to change the design to suit the site conditions. On the operations and maintenance front, GIS helps in identifying the weak sections of a pipeline. In case of a leakage or an accident, GIS dynamically displays the problem and provides a real-time decision with faster response time by sharing the information of the incident to the response team.
Recently, Gujarat Gas Limited (GGL) in collaboration with a GIS service provider undertook GIS surveys and mapping of gas pipelines in Surendranagar and Amreli towns in Gujarat.
A major challenge in GIS implementation is the procurement and processing of satellite images. Standard procedures have been adopted in India for this. An independent web GIS system called Go PRP (gas on proprietary resource planning) has been prepared, which displays the gas assets and pipelines on a spatial domain through a simple web GIS platform.
CGD companies in India are adopting GIS to support their functions. The available capacity, pressure and inlet quantity of gas at a station can be easily monitored through GIS. With recent advances in web applications and the expansion of broadband networks, it is now possible to integrate GIS with other business processes as well, thus enabling seamless and efficient operations.