Consultancy to upgrade Newfoundland's marine oil spill response process

10 July 2018

Geographic Information System (GIS) consultancy Integrated Informatics has been selected by Newfoundland’s Innovation Council to help revamp the province’s marine oil spill response. The firm will create a Tracking Data Management System to assist emergency responders with upgraded GIS digital resources.

Integrated Informatics Inc. is one of North America’s leading consultancies specializing in Geographic Information System (GIS) development and implementation. Founded in 2002, the GIS consulting firm supports energy and natural resources sector clients with spatial data management, workflow and process automation, and custom mapping solutions. Integrated Informatics has offices in Calgary, St. John’s, and Houston.

The firm was recently tapped by the NL (Newfoundland) Innovation Council to revamp the asset and personnel tracking system of the province’s Marine Oil Spill Response program. The Hibernia oil field about 300 km offshore of St. John’s Newfoundland is home to the world’s largest oil drilling platform. The offshore field is in a particularly inhospitable environment prone to icebergs, hurricanes, and violent winter storms.

Integrated Informatics will be tasked with creating a new Tracking Data Management System that will be deployed with Marine Emergency Response Industry stakeholders. The system will consist of applications for asset and personnel tracking, as well as a data management system that provides accurate data for emergency response exercises and command centres.Consultancy to upgrade Newfoundland’s marine oil spill response process“It is not uncommon to still see paper maps and documents heavily relied upon in Emergency Response Plans,” said Sharon Janes, Senior Consultant at Integrated Informatics. “The problem with these resources is that they do not present information that is as complete and current as possible within an emergency situation. This is what we are excited to help change – putting this data into the hands of responders as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

The consulting firm’s data management solution will utilize GIS technology – Integrated Informatics’ area of expertise. GIS is a sort of digital map system that’s much more expansive and useful than a limited paper map, allowing for multiple levels of data integration and visualization. The solution will include mobile and web interfaces, as well as a data analytics and reporting dashboard.

“By accessing asset and personnel tracking data through mobile devices and the web, first responders will be able to more efficiently interpret data, analyze trends, and plan response in real-time,” Janes added. “Because this system rests on such a familiar platform [mobile, web], those with technical and non-technical backgrounds alike will be able to implement it into their workflows with ease.”

Digitalization is the all-too-common touchpoint of numerous projects in the consulting scene, as organizations attempt to make their processes more efficient and responsive through the use of digital and online technology. From open banking solutions to app-ifying museum visits, clients are asking consultants to help them digitally upgrade the way they get things done.


As options dwindle, rail becomes the ticket for Canadian oil exports

15 March 2019

A delay in a permit for Enbridge’s Line 3 US is pushing Alberta toward further expansion in rail-based export capacity.

Due to a severe lack of export capacity, Canadian oil price benchmarks collapsed in Q4 of 2018, with Western Canadian Select dropping to approximately US$12 a barrel in November. With a lack of pipeline capacity and a high number of refineries going offline in the Midwest US, storage stockpiles reached a staggering 35 million barrels in Alberta.

Due to supply glut and low prices, the provincial government in January implemented mandatory production cuts to reduce volume by 325,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) until excess storage volume disappeared, followed by a 95,000 bbl/d production cut.

The Alberta government also purchased additional railcars to increase export capacity by 120,000 bbl/d by 2020. For now, the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline to British Columbia – and the promise of higher global Brent crude prices – remains stalled in consultations.

Alberta was, however, counting on Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline to add 370,000 bbl/d in export capacity to the US by late 2019. A Deloitte report stated that the Enbridge line would increase US export capacity by 9%, playing a major role in relieving Albertan oversupply and low prices.

As options dwindle, rail becomes the ticket for Canadian oil exports

New has since broken revealing a one-year permit delay on the Enbridge Line 3 replacement project – a major blow to the province’s ambitions.

In light of the developments in Alberta’s oil industry, Houston-based energy consulting firm Stratas Advisors has released a new report titled, “Hither or Wither: Will Canadian Producers Rail More to the U.S. or Cut Back?"

The firm’s analysis expects Alberta’s mandatory price cuts to cause a crude output drop in 2019, but by 2020 production is projected to return to pre-curtailment levels as new projects begin.

"Alberta has acted decisively to curtail producer output to reduce local crude stock overhangs in Alberta's storage facilities,” Greg Haas, director of the integrated energy and midstream practice at Stratas Advisors, said. “Prices have more than doubled as a result of the first two months of the curtailment program.”

Since hitting its November low point, Western Canadian Select has reached US$48.61 this month, according to figures from

Meanwhile, the Line 3 delay seems to make train export to the US is reasonable amid dwindling options. "The Line 3 delay leaves fewer transport options available to producers,” Stephen Beck, director of Stratas’ upstream practice, said. “Hence, rail will be an important outlet as the government gradually lifts production restrictions."

Though moving crude by rail is usually costlier than pipelines, the option still makes economic sense for Canada’s oil industry. “Even at higher prices, railing Alberta's crude to key US refinery market regions should be economically attractive through this year and next given the delay in the permitting and presumed startup timeframe for the only viable pipeline expansion,” Haas said.