Global standards for GPS tracking enhance safety


GPS that can track assets in locations and environments far too harsh for normal tracking devices is vital for safe and secure exploration and production operations. 

Many of the major players in international oil and gas exploration and production are increasingly adopting IECEx/ATEX standards for explosive safety protection during E&P operations.

This single global standard supplants a confusing alphabet soup of regional and national safety certifications.  It also provides a more stringent safety threshold that can be applied worldwide to ensure safety in explosive environments.

Key adopters include both international service companies such as Baker Hughes, as well as national operating companies such as Petrobras.   The impact of the emphasis on IECEx/ATEX means that – increasingly – international tenders for equipment equipped with GPS tracking will specifically mandate that all tracking devices comply with IECEx/ATEX zone-based standards.  

One such device is the GT1 from USA-based Geoforce – which is the world’s only IECEx Zone 0 certified satellite tracking device and was purpose-built specifically for oil and gas field operations.

Geoforce is a six-year-old company focused on developing end-to-end solutions for global traceability of oilfield assets. The company’s solutions include track and trace software for non-powered equipment such as baskets, containers and tanks, as well as for powered equipment such as generators, pumps, light towers, and vehicles

In addition to track and trace, Brazil-based operators and service companies are using technology to more efficiently and effectively maintain equipment and meet compliance standards.  For example, a number of companies in Brazil leverage Geoforce’s  specialised oilfield solutions, which includes a compliance module that provides oil and gas service companies, drilling companies and operators with the assurance that all equipment in use has up-to-date certifications (such as lift tests, magnetic particle tests, etc.). The compliance module also assures companies that all required maintenance is up to date. 

Initially focused on developing software for the oil and gas industry, Geoforce recently began offering its own custom hardware.   The frustrations of using off-the-shelf satellite tracking devices in the oilfield finally drove Geoforce’s CEO James MacLean to do something he said he’d never do. 

“I always swore Geoforce would never develop its own hardware,” MacLean says.   “We always felt that our greatest value as a company was our deep understanding of the oilfield – and providing end-to-end solutions that solved everyday problems for our customers.  Originally, we thought it would be sufficient to use ‘best of breed’ standard hardware as part of our solutions.  However, we eventually came to the conclusion that the oil and gas industry has too many unique requirements that no off-the-shelf device could address in a way that satisfied us.  Things like a smaller size, a more rugged enclosure, field replaceable batteries, and global capabilities.”

Since Geoforce established Macae-based Geoforce do Brasil in 2013 (the company’s first international subsidiary), the GT1 has been greeted with outstanding customer acceptance. The GT1’s rugged design enables it to track assets in locations and environments far too harsh for other tracking devices. 

Its global certifications, including Anatel, mean the hardware is authorised for use worldwide.  Its Zone 0 rating means it can operate safely for unlimited periods in exploration and production environments, even where explosive gasses may be present.  And its satellite communications enable it to track equipment virtually anywhere in the world, including offshore.

See article in Tecnologia de Petróleo e Gás

About Geoforce

Combining a cloud-based software platform with ruggedized GPS tracking devices, Geoforce’s Track and Trace solutions bring control to even the most remote field operations. Our asset tracking devices are built for the world’s toughest field operators in these industries: oil and gasrailconstructionminingtransportationgovernment/defense, and agriculture. Today more than 1,300 customers track 150,000+ assets in almost 100 countries. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Geoforce operates a research and development office in Bozeman, Montana. Sales and support offices are maintained throughout the U.S. and in Brazil, Australia, and Canada.

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