Global Positioning System helps put brakes on energy traffic speeds
Energy contractors increasingly are turning to a high-tech means of curtailing high-speed driving by their employees in area gas fields.
A growing number of them are using Global Positioning System units in trucks and other vehicles to remotely monitor their drivers’ speeds and keep an eye on them for safety and other reasons, the West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association said in a news release.
The trend is helping to address a longtime concern about speeding by energy traffic in places of heavy drilling such as western Garfield County.
“The community spoke, and our sector responded,” Larry Kent, Halliburton’s Piceance regional manager, said in the news release. “The units represent a significant investment allowing Halliburton to monitor driving behavior and improve Halliburton’s operations in the field.”
Jack Hays of Western Pump and Dredge said the devices track not just speed but things such as braking behavior, location and fuel consumption. They also allow for more accurate billing.
Despite a cost of as much as $3,000 per unit and a monthly subscription fee for each vehicle, GPS is being used locally not just by larger contractors such as Halliburton and BJ Services, but by smaller ones such as Old West Trucking.
Old West Trucking owner Jim West, also president of West Slope COGA, said, “Many of the energy companies are encouraging the technology from their contractors.”
Said spokeswoman Susan Alvillar of local energy developer Williams Production RMT, “We are for it 100 percent, not only in terms of safety but in terms of accountability for where that driver was in the field, particularly if we receive complaints from our neighbors. Or even if they have something positive to say, we want to make sure we can figure out who the company was or in particular who the driver was.”
The devices can improve safety by helping keep track of drivers in remote locations, Alvillar said.
She said Williams is complementing the GPS usage by installing “geofences” around pits. They trigger alarms if drivers go to the wrong pit, to prevent problems such as comingling of fluids in pits used for different purposes, she said.
Scott Brynildson, who lives in the Rifle area and serves on Garfield County’s Energy Advisory Board, called the use of GPS units a great idea.
He said speeding and other traffic infractions involving energy contractors used to be far more of a problem, and drivers generally do a good job today.
One reason is, unlike during the natural gas development boom when contractor trucks were in high demand, the drilling slowdown has made it much harder for contractors and drivers to find work, Brynildson said.
“They’ve got to either go by the rules or go down the road,” he said.