The benefits of electrification in the oil and gas industry

The oil and gas industry in the United States relies on the generation of onsite electrification using diesel or natural gas to power facilities and well pads. Despite this need, there is not always enough electrical infrastructure in rural areas to meet the demand, so generators are used to run some components of a typical well pad. These combustion engines are powered by diesel and natural gas, which tend to be reliant on older technology and mechanics that fail to match the uptime and reliability of electrified well pads located close to power sources.

Electrification has many benefits, including reduced emissions and reduced maintenance. Atwell has been working with clients to electrify well pads and pull power from the grid to increase uptime and replace the older equipment.

Realizing the power and potential of electrification in the oil and gas industry

Several years ago, Jake Kapp, Senior Project Manager at Atwell, was asked to develop a field-wide gathering system for a project. Knowing the client was reliant on electrification for their entire field, Kapp tapped into his experience in oil and gas gathering systems. He ensured that the land and survey were acquired right away for power lines and compressor stations, which would then become entirely electric.

Similarly, Kapp managed another project that involved nearly tripling the capacity of an existing 140 MMSCFD compressor station.  The scope was to add new electric powered units, as the existing station was operating natural gas-powered compression units. The station was successfully converted to electric compressors and added 260 MMSCFD throughput for a total of 400 MMSCFD without any additional emissions.

The success of these two projects opened Kapp’s eyes to the potential of electrification and the future of the oil and gas industry. It has also resulted in Atwell putting even more attention and effort into advancing its electrification capabilities.

“In my opinion, this is the wave of the future from a reliability and runtime standpoint,” said Kapp. “The simple fact of electrification is that it will reduce emissions and required maintenance. The electric motor is much more direct and straightforward than that of an internal combustion engine.”

The initial innovation shown in Kapp’s work led other clients to express interest and seek Atwell’s electrification expertise for their projects. “This isn’t a one-time project,” Kapp explained. “We’re seeing this movement across the nation, and we can support our clients on a national level across industries. Be it wind, solar, or gas, electrification can be a game changer and we can meet client needs in all areas.”

Serving clients and various markets with electrification

From an electrical delivery standpoint, there is nothing Atwell does not touch. For example, we can design a power generation site, from wind or solar, and deliver that power to a substation or existing transmission line. From there, we have the design and engineering capabilities to deliver distribution power to a well pad and supply power to all of the equipment, should a client choose to do so. It is because of our vast capabilities and national presence that we know the electrification program can meet the needs of each industry we serve.

“We understand that some companies are hesitant to jump in entirely, so we’re happy to use the expertise and experience we’ve gained in this area to consult on projects,” Kapp said. “We can even support smaller projects like a power study, or taking a look at older systems and evaluating whether an updated or new system entirely would be best for the client.”

For example, Atwell has done previous overhead power line projects with oil and gas companies. For one project, Atwell delivered electricity to an existing well pad so a new well could be drilled and the completion of a two-week frac project could be reached, otherwise known as an E-Drill and E-Frac. Using electricity, the runtime is higher so there is less maintenance and the are no emissions from equipment.

Atwell worked with the client from beginning of the design phase for the overhead power system project so the E-Drill and the E-Frac equipment could be removed after the work was complete. The new well pad then had power for basic operations without having to shut down the power line.

Because of the breadth of services offered by Atwell, clients can rely on us to take them from title work and surveying through the final stages of a project.

The expected growth and demand for electrification in the industry

In just a few years, Kapp has seen the number of clients interested in electrification grow, along with his ability to act as a translator across skillsets.

“This opportunity grabbed my attention and sparked my interest because it is a presently underdeveloped niche,” said Kapp. “I’ve always been interested in how electricity gets delivered and many oil and gas companies are working in the middle of nowhere, where the electrical infrastructure just isn’t in place. I’ve been able to assess what’s needed from that electrical standpoint and speak to the client about what is needed from a time and cost perspective. I get particularly excited when I’m presented with a problem and the solution is within our capabilities. Electrification is one of those solutions.”

Atwell’s team of passionate and knowledgeable subject matter experts is the reason why we are able to provide innovative solutions like electrification. As the world becomes more conscious of the way we consume and emit energy, Atwell is excited and proud to be developing an electrification campaign that will not only help our clients, but our global environment as well.

How Gil Henry’s past is influencing his future in the oil and gas industry

Gil Henry, Vice President of Oil & Gas at Atwell, has been in the industry for more than 25 years. What started as an offshore electrical engineering career has blossomed into leadership positions spanning decades and various companies. Gil shares more about his career path and passion for the industry in this month’s spotlight interview.

1. What would people be surprised to know about your career path?

I think people would be surprised to know I took a break during my undergraduate degree and spent time as a restaurant manager. I worked at a few different restaurants in different cities – from Baton Rouge to New Orleans to Lafayette to Pensacola. It was an interesting time working with the public and learning about people. I quickly realized that I wanted to go back and finish my degree, but the experience still serves me today when working with clients.

2. What skillset is essential in business development?

The number one thing we can always do to develop more business is to do our work well. Great work creates trust, which leads to more work. Second to that, we need to listen to what a client needs and determine how we can best meet those needs. New clients are looking for the people who they can trust to successfully get the work done. The services that we provide are some of the most important aspects of a project and selecting the right service provider is a big factor in the success of a project.

3. How has your degree in Electrical Engineering served you in the oil and gas industry?

Electrical engineering got my foot in the door in the oil and gas industry. I learned a lot when I was working on a wide variety of projects providing electrical support. From offshore platforms to oil gathering fields to cross-country pipelines to refineries, I was exposed to many aspects of the industry. I maintain my PE license, but I haven’t done true electrical engineering in about 15 years. For a lot of engineers, you come to a fork in the career path, where you decide if you want to continue on the technical design side or go the PM route. It really depends on what your goals are, but I chose to pursue project management opportunities and I’ve enjoyed the journey ever since.

4. You’ve been with Atwell for almost two years. What is your vision for the next two?

My vision for the next two years at Atwell is focusing on finding and hiring great people, and continued growth in the energy space. We had a great year last year, and I want to take advantage of the momentum and new opportunities we are seeing in all aspects of the energy markets. We are at a great time in an evolving market and Atwell is in a prime position to take advantage and be the solution clients are seeking. Atwell’s great reputation and name recognition in the energy market is spreading. We have the potential to continue the growth we’ve seen, and I’m excited to maintain that energy.

5. When you’re hiring new team members, what’s one thing you’re looking for specifically?

Experience goes a long way but the biggest thing I’m looking for is attitude. An applicant’s overall attitude and history of success when working on a team is a good indicator of whether they’ll fit in at Atwell. Teamwork requires strong communication skills, high energy, and the ability to self-actualize. Being successful in our business requires people who will go the extra step and get the job done right.

6. When people ask you what makes Atwell so successful, what’s your go-to answer?

The people and the culture of the company – that is what makes us successful.

7. Speed round:

  • Football or basketball? Football
  • Android or iPhone? iPhone
  • Summer or Winter? Summer
  • Texas or Louisiana? For food, culture, and sports, it’s Louisiana. For career, it’s Texas. For family and friends, it’s both!

A framework for success: How stakeholder engagement reduces risks and connects community opportunities

 

Have you been surprised by stakeholder feedback on a project that wasn’t anticipated? Did it impact your schedule or scope? Did it challenge your overall project budget? Maybe your project couldn’t move forward as planned.

Whether it’s community input to make a more informed design decision or setting up a framework for stakeholders to engage on a controversial plan, we creatively design and deliver custom stakeholder engagement plans for your projects and programs.

Danielle Peoples, Project Director, Communications & Stakeholder Engagement at Atwell, has observed a growing demand and interest in developing community benefits for projects across the industry over the past 13 years.

“Communities, individuals, and organizations have important perspectives and experiences to capture in designing the best possible solutions. We know that taking time to research and listen to feedback on potential hurdles or barriers and then developing creative options that can reduce risk, streamline projects, and increase involvement is helping our clients and the communities they’re working within feel more satisfied,” said Peoples.

One of the primary advantages of proactively engaging and understanding the communities we’re working in is risk management. Rather than advancing a project and making significant commitments only to run into an issue late in the process when adjustments are challenging and costly, adapting project planning to allow for input from stakeholders early offers significant benefits:

1. Deepen understanding of the community and its needs

With the technology available today, engagement is more effective than ever before. Whether via social media, visual simulations, virtual or in-person meetings, it is now easier to request and listen to community vision and work to find commonalities to advance project goals.

2. Initiate and strengthen the discussion

Proactive efforts to communicate the project objectives, impact, and timeline allow developers to be in front of challenges and concerns. By working with the community and communicating early and regularly to let them know of the process, we increase the likelihood of engaging supporters and alleviating concerns of potential detractors.

3. Anticipate local, regional, and national requirements and opportunities

Working with Atwell and our national team of experts brings both local knowledge (regulations, permitting, workforce development and minority business benefits) and deep understanding of state and federal requirements (Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding) allowing our clients to enhance decision making and access funding that drives innovation while mitigating risk.

The ideal time to start planning stakeholder engagement is at the earliest stages of development of a project. When structured as an integral part of the development process, stakeholder engagement can improve the reputation of the developer and project, mitigate risk by understanding how varied scenarios might play out, and reduce costs of the project overall thanks to options presented as part of the process.

“Doing stakeholder engagement should not be viewed as a singular task to be checked off but as an opportunity to offer innovative community benefits that are a win for the development team and the community. If we treat people like we’d like to be treated, the aim is for their thoughts to be valued inclusively,” said Peoples. “When we offer people the involvement to understand our operational project challenges, they may have solutions we hadn’t even imagined.”

To learn more about communications and stakeholder engagement services and Atwell’s client support, contact Danielle Peoples.

Celebrating National Surveyors Week: An Interview with Senior Director Justin Cecil

In honor of National Surveyors Week, we connected with Senior Director and surveyor Justin Cecil to ask about his career and where he thinks the future of surveying is headed.

How did you become interested in surveying, and what motivated you to pursue it as a career?

My journey into the surveying career was a bit of a winding road. In college, I majored in construction engineering, and surveying was a part of that program. The surveying classes were some of my favorite, we got to map parts of campus, but the coursework was primarily focused on route surveying and topographic surveying.

After college I went to work for Pulte Homes working on the construction side of things. Atwell was a consultant to Pulte, so I got to work with a lot of the engineers and surveyors. That’s where I go to know and work with Matt Bissett (current President at Atwell). I started thinking about wanting a career change, so I met up with Matt and he helped me get into the survey group with Atwell.

After some time working in the field and learning about all the things surveyors do, I decided to go back to school to take some additional survey classes at a local community college so I could learn more about the boundary and law portions of surveying. I really love the variety of work and the history of how it helped develop the country. I’ve been with Atwell for 19 years now and I couldn’t think of anything else I would want to do. It’s a valuable and rewarding position to be in.

Are there any particular areas or types of surveying that you find especially challenging, and how do you overcome those challenges?

Right now, I feel like the biggest challenge is hiring surveyors and growing your team. I don’t think many people know enough about surveying and what a great and important profession it is. Very few places offer a degree specifically in surveying, and there aren’t many opportunities for people to get trained and really learn the profession. I feel it’s on surveyors now to promote and get the word out to help teach the next generation what a survey career really entails.

How do you collaborate with other professionals, such as engineers or architects, to ensure seamless integration of surveying data into larger projects?

We’re involved from the beginning to the end of the project. It’s important for us to set up an initial meeting with the developers, engineers and architects to help build the scope of the project and to understand what it is they are intending to do with the survey. Before engineering anything, we have to map it out and determine property limits and if there are any easements that could potentially cause issues with where they want to build. Once we do the initial survey, they can then begin their project. Once the design is completed, the surveyors work on the platting and any easements required, perform stake-out of the proposed improvements, and at the end of each project, we to go back and do a final survey to make sure everything was constructed per plan and to provide an as-built for project financing.

How has technology, such as GIS (Geographic Information System) or drones, influenced the way you approach surveying projects?

Technology really influences the way we approach projects. GIS is an incredible resource for surveyors. It makes research a lot easier as it shows you parcel information, areal imagery and sometimes contours of the land, need versus having to do a site visit or go the local courthouse to pull a deed or tax map. It’s still important to visit the site to get a feel for what you’re working with, but GIS really helps frame out the property lines and show what type of terrain we’re working with. It’s also helpful in supplying legal descriptions of the property so we know how to handle any of those issues accordingly.

Drones, terrestrial scanning and UAVs also benefit our projects and make our field work more accurate and efficient. We can utilize them to map out certain parts of the project that are more difficult to map conventionally. We’re working on creating a virtual Crew Chief position who can go out with a drone and collect data and be able to analyze it later on.

In what ways do you see the field of surveying evolving in the future, and how do you plan to adapt to these changes?

Scanning and drone technology are definitely the future of mapping. It’s up to us to be able to embrace those tools and use them to make our projects more efficient and to create a more accurate product. It’s still going to be important for us to be able to interpret the data that these technologies provide, so it’s not like these technologies are going to completely replace conventional surveying; there’s still going to be a need for surveyors to accurately measure and interpret the data.

An interesting thing about surveying is that you have to have the ability to read cursive writing, because many of the old records that were taken in the 1700s and 1800s are written in cursive. We’re still relying on those records for some projects, so even though technology has greatly advanced since then, surveyors are still needed to interpret what has been recorded.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in surveying or just starting out in the field?

I think the best thing you can do is go out in the field and get experience. Work with a survey crew and learn as much as possible to really gain a solid foundation. The most successful surveyors are the ones who have spent time doing it and put in the work. It gives you a chance to see all aspects and learn about the variety of projects you get to work with. Be curious, ask questions, and absorb as much as you can.

4 questions to consider as you navigate your AEC career

 

Deb Wilson is the Vice President of Land Solutions within the Power and Energy market sector at Atwell. With more than 25 years in the industry, you may be surprised to know her career did not start in the AEC industry, nor is her degree in the field she serves today.

Wilson began her career working in finance at General Motors, but after a few years, she knew she was driven to pursue other opportunities. Despite the role’s job security, she chose to pursue her education at the University of Michigan, where she received a degree in Environmental Studies. After several twists and turns, having served in the Environmental industry and a decade in the Land Surveying field, she now leads the Land Solutions Right of Way group with the Power & Energy sector at Atwell, driving new client relationships and advocating for Atwell’s services. It’s because of her non-linear career experience that she’s passionate about career-path conversations.

Throughout her career, Wilson credits much of her success to her mindset and determination to maintain a positive perspective. Over the years, Wilson invested in herself, followed her intuition, and worked on her personal and professional development. She has always believed that her career was hers for the shaping and works to impart this advice upon her team.

“Any good career-path conversation must start with self-reflection,” Wilson says. “Anyone seeking career direction must ask themselves what they really want out of their career before they can gain truly helpful advice or direction from a conversation with a leader.”

The process of identifying goals, defining and evaluating priorities, and deciding what you’re willing to commit to are all part of a fruitful career-pathing conversation. Consider the following questions as you head into the new year and the next 12 months of your career:

1. What do you really want for yourself?

Knowing yourself well can be one of the first steps in evaluating the direction of your career. How much responsibility do you want? What activities give you a tremendous amount of satisfaction? What concerns you, and can you grow beyond those fears?

“When I’m in career conversations with my team, one of the first questions I ask is what their top priorities are, because it’s not my decision to make,” Wilson states. “In some roles, there’s an amount of commitment required and that can infringe on other priorities. My initial goal is to help people identify their priorities, then plan with those in mind. Life is alive with changes, and we may prioritize different goals at different times.”

Wilson emphasizes the importance of recognizing that your career is a journey, not a destination. People are ever evolving and growing, and priorities will change. Knowing what you want for yourself and recognizing that you can change your direction leaves room for opportunity.

2. How can you drive your personal career growth, and who can help?

Your career is one of the greatest personal investments you will ever make. Thinking of career growth as an investment is empowering, and the best person to promote your capabilities is you. Consistently exposing yourself to new skills, methodologies, and concepts gives you the ability to refine and improve your competencies at any level.

Additionally, career growth requires supporters who can mentor, coach, and advocate for you. Career advocates create opportunities for exposure, training, and education. Wilson states, “I attribute my career success to the many individuals who supported, believed, and trusted in me. Yes, I had to earn trust, but I don’t discount their contributions; without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Expose yourself to people you respect and recruit your career advocates to give yourself the best opportunity to drive the direction of your career.

3. How much responsibility do you really want?

Knowing how far you want to challenge yourself and understanding the amount of responsibility you’re seeking can help you set goals and expectations for yourself. If you want to be the one making the decisions, Wilson suggests you go on a track to a leadership position; however, if you’d rather have someone to whom you can defer decisions to, a director or vice president position may not be the ideal role for you.

Decisions don’t only exist within leadership roles, but when it comes to responsibility, leadership roles will meet your expectations if that’s what motivates you. “What I recommend, if you haven’t had autonomous responsibility before and want to try it out, is to identify areas of need in your work environment,” Wilson advises. “Then, talk with a decision-maker about solutions, and ask to lead the initiative all the way through execution. Well before I was in a leadership role, I remember being in these situations.”

The key for Wilson was offering to take responsibility for execution. “Those moments really moved my career,” she recalls, “but I recognized that if things didn’t go as planned, I owned it; I took responsibility.” Knowing the level of responsibility you’re seeking will allow you to be more concise in making career decisions.

4. What is your self-talk saying?

Your inner dialogue can tell you a lot about what you do or do not think is possible for your career; after all, it is the voice you listen to more than any other. Working on your inner dialogue can open doors for you simply because you made the choice to pursue a new position, rather than throwing up roadblocks of self-doubt that can prevent new opportunities.

“This is the one thing we always have access to,” affirms Wilson. “When you’re at your best and your self-dialogue is favorable, you’re in a good position to be successful. You’re more open to the possibilities around you.”

Regardless of where you are, no career path is going to be linear. With time, those twists and surprises will take you in directions you may never have thought of in those initial career conversations. While you can’t plan for surprises that may occur, you can get clarity on what matters most to you today and what you’re willing to commit to through effort, dedication, and the support of those around you.

How a vegetation management plan can help save the environment—and your solar project

 

By: Maureen O’Shea Stone, Botanist and Senior Project Manager

Did you know that one in every three bites of food you take is the result of plant pollination? Unfortunately, the pollinators we depend upon for our food are in global decline.

While there is no single cause for this, one factor is the loss of pollinator habitat and food sources. Vegetation management at solar power sites is an opportunity to transform these facilities into thriving plant communities. These islands of biological diversity support habitat for pollinator species, birds, and other wildlife while enhancing a solar facility’s economic efficiencies.

With 45 years of experience in designing, implementing, and monitoring the results of vegetation management plans, I’ve found that a thoughtful vegetation management plan plays a crucial role in effective solar project operations. It’s also important in supporting numerous ecological service goals, including those required by different permitting jurisdictions.

The importance of having a revegetation design early on

Integrating thoughtful revegetation design and management concepts early in the project planning process provides the most comprehensive and cost-effective benefits. Our Atwell team of botanists, plant ecologists, and landscape architects provide a turnkey vegetation management plan service that includes planning early goals, addressing permitting agency concerns, project designs and layouts, on-site construction support, and monitoring. We provide efficient project operations as well as answer questions, support agency permitting concerns, and make recommendations for vegetation establishment and sustainable ecosystem function. All of these factors are components of a solid vegetation management plan.

An initial site assessment identifies existing vegetation and soils, surrounding land uses, and existing weed issues. Planning and implementing project site preparation, such as pre-construction weed control, topsoil identification and preservation, and the installation of appropriate stormwater and erosion controls, is essential to success.

Species selection for revegetation seed mixes is a critical factor for meeting project goals, like creating pollinator habitat, as well as addressing site-specific conditions to guarantee the new plant community successfully germinates and establishes. If done properly and early, site preparation and the correct seed mix selection will allow the area to revegetate itself.

Operations vegetation control methods limit plant height to not interfere with solar panel efficiencies. These methods also provide required weed control and help maintain the desired plant community. These methods may include different types of pest management, such as mechanical (mowing, trimming), chemical (herbicides), biological (grazing animals), or integrated pest management.

A vegetation management plan can improve solar project efficiency

I’m continually fascinated by plants, their ecology, and the innovative opportunities they provide for us, with one of those benefits being a complement to clean energy solutions. Here are three ways a well-thought-out vegetation management plan can benefit your solar project:

1. Enhance solar panel efficiency: Overgrown vegetation can cast shadows on solar panels, reducing their efficiency. By managing vegetation, the solar panels can receive maximum sunlight exposure, optimizing energy generation and increasing the project’s overall productivity.

2. Sequester more carbon than turfgrass or bare ground treatments: In the Midwest, a solar-native grassland strategy has a potential carbon storage capacity that is 65% greater than agriculture and 35% greater than a solar-turfgrass scenario.

3. Encourage biodiversity: While the plan focuses on managing vegetation near the solar panels, it can also create wildlife-friendly habitats in surrounding areas. Promoting biodiversity and ecological balance can benefit the local environment and support your company’s sustainability goals.

Community and cost benefits of a vegetation management plan

Beyond improving the environment, incorporating pollinator-friendly habitats into your solar facility offers many other benefits. These benefits include:

– Cost-effectiveness: Well-managed vegetation can lead to increased solar panel efficiency and energy production, making the overall project more financially viable. The wrong vegetation (too tall or non-native) can lead to bigger problems in the long run. This begins as early as the seed selection. If done properly and early, the seed and the ground will do the work itself.

– Community relations: Vegetation cover on a solar facility is often the first thing the public notices about a site. By investing in a comprehensive vegetation management plan, solar companies can demonstrate their commitment to environmental responsibility and community well-being. This can help foster positive community relations and enhance the company’s reputation.

– Increased safety: Maintaining a safe working environment for maintenance and inspections is crucial for solar project personnel. Investing in planned and regular vegetation maintenance to limit vegetation height and thatch build-up reduces the risk of fire and potential liability costs.

– Capital incentives for regulatory compliance: Some capital incentives may be tied to compliance with specific government regulations related to vegetation management. These vary from state to state, but could include tax credits and incentives, renewable energy credits, grants and funding, carbon credits and offset programs, conservation easements, and regulatory compliance assistance.

– Environmental stewardship: Companies can receive financial support from the government for vegetation management practices that prioritize ecological conservation and promote biodiversity. This can be used to employ sustainable and environmentally friendly methods, ensuring that their solar projects positively contribute to local ecosystems.

Overall, a detailed, well-thought-out vegetation management plan demonstrates a company’s commitment to sustainable practices and responsible land use. I never cease to be amazed at the capacity of plants to accomplish so much for the human species.

Vegetation management supports the implementation of environmentally responsible practices, enhanced energy production, and contributes to the overall success and sustainability of solar projects. By having a design planned and implemented early on, you can avoid unnecessary costs and produce a more sustainable and successful project.

Looking toward the future of the hydrocarbons industry and supporting client investment

We sat down with our hydrocarbons leaders, Vice Presidents Drew Celovsky and Gil Henry, to learn how they built decades-long careers in the industry.

 

  1. What makes you passionate about the work you do each day?

 

Drew: There are many things I’m passionate about when it comes to work, particularly these five things: contracts, billable man hours, project execution, project delivery, and collections. But at the forefront, I am most passionate about the team. I honestly feel I am nothing without the team. I enjoy interacting with them, feeding off their energy, and the excellence they bring to the table daily.

Gil: I agree with Drew. A lot of my passion centers around the team itself and what we’re able to build here on the team. I remember when we were young, glassy-eyed engineers and surveyors with no idea of what we were getting into. To see people coming to the industry now and helping develop them in their careers and their leadership is an exciting thing.

The other aspect is what we do day-to-day. Being part of some great opportunities and great projects is just fun. We can look back at the biggest pipeline, oil, or gas projects that are being constructed and know we were part of it. It’s fun to close deals and find new opportunities.

 

  1. How did you find Atwell and what keeps you here?

 

Drew: My relationship with Atwell began in a past life while working for another service provider. It was there that I would subcontract projects to Atwell. Eventually, I met with the leadership team, in particular CCO Tim Augustine, President Matt Bissett, and CEO Brian Wenzel. The spirit that these gentlemen embody and have taught me is exactly the reason why I’m still here.

Gil: My story is very similar now. Atwell first approached me about three to four years ago and we started having conversations. Shortly thereafter, they introduced me to Vice President Matt Rosser. I already knew a few people, such as Drew, who had joined Atwell and were happy with the decision. Ultimately, after meeting with Brian Wenzel, Dan McNulty, and Matt Bissett, I knew this was where I wanted to be for the next stage of my career.

When I look at where Atwell is now, the atmosphere around the company, the rapid growth, and the diversification—those things make it a place where you want to be. Coming out of the pandemic, when so many companies were restructuring, Atwell was doing the complete opposite. We’re consistently growing and furthering our reach. In every different aspect, the diversity between land development, all the renewables, and power and energy contribute to our place in the market and potential.

 

  1. What indicators do you look towards when preparing for the future of the hydrocarbons industry?

 

Drew: To start, you must understand the respective companies that you wish to pursue. This includes the players at these companies and understanding their visions and long-term plans. Pay attention to their press releases. Have meetings with them and stay engaged. We have to pay attention to the drilling rig counts per basin in conjunction with the environmental and political climates around the world. Bissett also gave me great advice when he said, “Seek first to understand; then, be understood.”

Gil: I agree with understanding the companies you’re interested in. A lot of it is intel from our clients directly. Also, by looking at or listening to their quarterly earnings reports to see where they’re heading and where they are spending money. What aspect are they looking at? This matters because in the hydrocarbon space, it’s not just oil and gas anymore. We’re looking at renewables. We’re looking at CO2 and hydrogen. A lot of our traditional clients are making that turn, and we are well suited to assist them in all aspects of the emerging energy market.

 

  1. Atwell employees are currently participating in the company’s annual NFL Pick’em Pool to predict which football teams will come out on top this season. What college and professional football teams are you rooting for this fall?

 

Gil: I’m rooting for LSU (Geaux Tigers!) and the Saints. Will the Saints make it to the Super Bowl? I doubt it. We’ll see, but I doubt it.

 

  1. What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone interested in advancing their career in hydrocarbons?

 

Drew: Be consistent. Stay engaged and have a full understanding of the industry. If you don’t know, seek the answers that will lead to a successful outcome for not only you, but your team.

Gil: Don’t burn any bridges. The hydrocarbons world, especially the pipeline world, is so incredibly small. When you’re a young engineer, surveyor, or designer coming out of school, it seems like it’s huge and all over the world, but it’s actually very small. People continue to pop-up over time, and you’ll want those relationships in place. You never know who you’re going to be working for, or working next to, tomorrow.

Are you planning a carbon capture project? Here are 7 development considerations before you start

By: Chris Reischman, Senior Director of Oil & Gas, and Gil Henry, Vice President of Oil & Gas

The race to meet the US goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is underway. One of the best solutions available for reducing the emissions in the air is the process of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). While CCUS is a leading solution to meeting greenhouse gas reduction ambitions, there are several things to consider before diving into a CCUS development project.

Our team has worked on many carbon dioxide (CO2) projects starting with pipeline transport for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in the early 2000s and are now transitioning to CCUS projects. Based on our experience and expertise, here are the top seven things to keep in mind before moving forward with development.

Economic viability: First and foremost, it’s important to consider the feasibility and economic viability of the project. Any carbon capture project involves complex and costly systems that must be understood and accounted for at the beginning of development. Components of the project’s proposed CO2 lifecycle from capturing to safely transporting to securely storing it must be thoroughly evaluated during the FEED phase, to help ensure a successful project.

CO2 utilization options: CO2 can be captured and used in a number of different ways. One option is converting the CO2 into usable products through chemical and manufacturing processes (E.g. concrete or industrial products, such as plastics or alcohol). Another option is to inject underground to enhance the recovery of oil in a depleted reservoir.

Transportation options: After capturing the CO2, the next step is to determine the safest and most economical method of transport. There are several transportation options to consider, including pipelines, trains, trucks, barges, and ships. There are pros and cons to each of these options, although pipelines and ships are the most scalable options with the lowest cost per ton of CO2.

Storage options: If the CO2 is to be stored underground, sequestration options are available. Options include underground storage in depleted oil and gas reservoirs, saline aquifers, and deep coal seams.

Regulations and compliance expectations: Beyond the process of capturing the CO2 itself, there are additional factors that must be considered. Before any ground can be broken for a carbon capture project, there are regulations and compliance expectations that must be met. All state and federal requirements for the project must be considered at the very beginning stages of the project’s development. A thorough permit and compliance matrix will greatly assist in establishing and maintaining the overall project schedule.

Environmental impacts: Another essential consideration before the project breaks ground is to consider the possible environmental impacts of the carbon capture project. While CCUS is a strong solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it remains an imperfect process that could have adverse effects. It’s important to work with a team that has a thorough understanding of the possible environmental impacts and expertise in mitigating those risks.

Community engagement: Last, but certainly not least: community engagement is essential to the success of both the development and long-term success of any CCUS project. In the past, unsuccessful community engagement and local opposition have contributed to the cancellation or relocation of some CCUS projects.  Any development needs to consider the engagement of all the project stakeholders including the local communities, project developers, and regulatory bodies. This may require advanced communication on the project to ensure local community members and policymakers are on board and understand why and how the project may be beneficial to their community and the reliability of affordable energy for the foreseeable future.  A clear community and stakeholder engagement strategy is important to a project’s success.

CCUS projects come with a steep price tag and require thorough consideration of the project from start to finish. Still, CCUS is a leading solution as Americans march toward reaching reduced greenhouse gas emission goals. Fortunately for our clients, our expertise in CO2 storage as well as safely transporting CO2 sets our work apart from others. From day one, our clients have the benefit of experienced project managers in the field of CCUS as well as a commitment to both excellent work and thorough mitigation of any potential challenge. Our clients can have confidence knowing their project is in the best hands to reach a successful completion with clear, consistent communication along the way.

GIS is more than a map – it’s a strategic tool to connect data and drive decision

When contemplating GIS, it evokes thoughts of maps and data points, perhaps even the dashboards observed during the height of the COVID pandemic. However, it is crucial to recognize that GIS extends far beyond mere cartography. It is a comprehensive geographic information system that encompasses the creation, management, analysis, and mapping of diverse datasets.

Acting as the linchpin of everyday data utilization, GIS consolidates information into a centralized repository, facilitating remote accessibility and real-time interpretation during the data collection process. Thus, GIS transcends the conventional notion of being solely a mapping tool.

Connecting the dots through GIS

“GIS means connection. GIS connects data by leveraging the spatial component of information, allowing for the integration, analysis, and visualization of diverse datasets to gain insights into geographic patterns and relationships,” said Lauren Federsel, Associate Director of the GIS team at Atwell. “At Atwell, our projects rely on data, and we use GIS to collect and manage the data so we can interpret it and keep our clients informed in real-time.

“GIS gives us the ability to manage multiple layers of data collection from both the natural environment – such as water courses, water bodies, wetlands, and species – to the built environment – such as buildings, roads, solar, wind, transmission – and more, within the same system. We can leverage whatever combination of data gathered from the field, mined online, or other product data and display it all on top of each other to help inform decisions.”

Our team of GIS experts provides both internal support to our teams and external support directly to our clients. Whether we’re supporting our land development, natural resources, or our environmental clients, our GIS team is working to ensure their data reflects the most up-to-date and accurate numbers to minimize risk and maximize opportunities for our clients.

“We work together with internal teams at Atwell and the client to identify the project needs and the area of interest – be it an acre, a mile, or multi-state,” said Federsel. “We then use GIS to analyze a multitude of constraints to determine the best location for the client to do their work. Our goal is to help our clients understand where they should work by anticipating roadblocks, rather than reacting and adjusting down the road.”

Real-time data collection

As our GIS team has grown and evolved, so has our ability to automate back-end processes that keep our clients in touch with real-time layers (data points). The models our team has created take much of the human error out of the process, as the systems and deliverables our clients have access to are constantly incorporating new layers that reflect all completed work. Ultimately, our client only needs an internet connection to access real-time information.

The best part? When any of Atwell’s team is in the field collecting data, all that is needed to access and enter data is a phone or tablet.

“If our client has land agents going out in the field, they don’t need a map. They don’t need infrastructure. They just need a set of questions that they’re asking owners in a mobile version of a form – like a clipboard, but the clipboard is mobile,” said Federsel. “Then imagine all the information the field agent is collecting in that clipboard is automatically populated to a database that’s online and can be accessed in real-time by any project manager, developer, or whomever. Each time the field agent hits submit, I can go review that data while working in the office.”

 

Customized dashboards for clients

Atwell’s GIS team leverages ESRI ArcGIS Dashboards to develop dynamic and real-time visualizations that effectively communicate geospatial data to our clients. These interactive dashboards provide a comprehensive view of location-based analytics, presenting instinctive and interactive data visualizations on a single screen. By combining charts, maps, tables, and graphs, they offer a cohesive and engaging display of information.

The configurability of these dashboards allows them to adapt to different map content and interact with various elements such as widgets and indicators. Users can actively engage with the data, filtering it based on attributes or geographic areas to focus on specific subsets of information and analyze trends and patterns. Atwell’s GIS team ensures that the appearance and branding of the dashboards align with the visual identity of both Atwell and our clients. Custom themes, colors, and styles are applied to create a consistent and professional look.

Furthermore, dashboards can include charts that cross-filter the map, facilitating trend visualization and enhancing the conveyed information. They seamlessly integrate with other components of Atwell’s ArcGIS platform, enabling the GIS team to connect them with ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise. This integration allows the dashboards to leverage data from diverse sources, including ArcGIS maps, layers, and geospatial analysis tools.

Overall, these interactive dashboards serve as a powerful medium for presenting up-to-date data visualizations and showcasing spatial-based analytics in an intuitive and seamlessly interactive manner. By harnessing the capabilities of ArcGIS Dashboards, Atwell’s GIS team empowers clients to make informed decisions, monitor status in real-time, and gain valuable insights into their projects.

The future is real-time

“GIS bridges all of our different teams here at Atwell,” Federsel said. “We offer our clients the latest and greatest data to avoid working in an incorrect data set. You don’t have to be a GIS person. You don’t have to know anything about GIS. We can build engaging web-based solutions with a user-friendly interface where clients can engage and provide feedback while they focus on moving the project forward.”

Our team at Atwell views GIS as a strategic tool for connecting data, enabling real-time insights, and supporting decision-making. By leveraging GIS capabilities, we offer clients the latest data, user-friendly applications, and seamless integration to drive project progress and success.

 

Celebrating National Surveyor’s Week: An interview with Vice President Drew Celovsky

In honor of National Surveyor’s Week, we asked Vice President Drew Celovsky about his career in surveying and what challenges the field is facing today.

  • What makes surveying a unique career?

Since the beginning of history and with written documentation dating back many centuries, there has always been a need for boundary lines to be established for infrastructure to be built. Land has been fought over, sold, claimed, or purchased throughout history, and the need for boundary lines remains essential in the development of nations, communities, and countries that exist today. This makes surveying one of the oldest professions.

When we take a glance at the founding and settlement of the United States of America – led by recognized surveyors such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Banneker, Daniel Boone, Meriwether Lewis, and William Clark to name a few – surveyors today are often challenged with dedicated research and retracement of the steps of the original surveys established hundreds of years ago.

  • What is the typical day of a surveyor?

As every project is unique in nature, the day-to-day operations of a surveyor certainly change depending on the tasks at hand. Starting with the office, a surveyor can find that they may be researching and plotting vesting deed information, resolving boundary lines for drafting of legal plats from data collected in the field, project management, data processing, and more.

In the field, surveyors can find themselves performing tasks such as coordinating geometry calculations, searching for, and collecting precise electronic data of boundary corners, topography, construction staking, and as-built existing features/infrastructure. These precise electronic devices utilized by the field surveyor can include but are not limited to the following equipment:

  1. Conventional and Robotic Total Stations
  2. GPS (Global Positioning Systems)
  3. UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle)
  4. 3D Laser Scanning

 

  • Why did you choose to be a surveyor?

I come from a family of surveyors, so it is safe to say I was born into it. Additionally, my passion for Texas history and the extensive research and boundary retracement of the original Texas patent surveys and Spanish Land Grants as the Republic of Texas made its transition into the State of Texas in 1846. One thing that was quite rewarding for me was finding these original corners and witness trees before being destroyed in many cases by urban development.

  • What challenges does the surveying field face today?

Resources. In my opinion, one of the biggest challenges the field faces today is the lack of surveying graduates. There are not enough to meet the needs across the nation. Another challenge is the rate at which technology continues to advance. Understanding this technology, the respective mentoring and training vs. ROI associated with it are imperative, to say the least.

  • What separates an Atwell surveyor from others?

Atwell is and continues to be one of the industry leaders. An Atwell surveyor is well-rounded and able to quickly adapt to any tasks that may come their way. Many of the Atwell field surveyors are local across our numerous offices while more than 70 crews are mobile across the nation. This blend of unique and diversified surveyors along with their advanced knowledge of the latest technologies and their ability to execute and deliver warrants separation.