BP’s hurricane management system monitors Gulf of Mexico assets

April 9, 2007
After the devastation to the US Gulf Coast area in 2005 caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, BP PLC in 2006 put into operation a new hurricane and major storm management system.

After the devastation to the US Gulf Coast area in 2005 caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, BP PLC in 2006 put into operation a new hurricane and major storm management system.

BP jointly developed the system with IDV Solutions, Lansing, Mich., and Microsoft Corp.

BP says the life-saving system provides real-time information to quickly make decisions, improve security for the energy supply when it is most needed, as well as manage and protect facilities and especially people.

It launched the production version in mid 2006, in time for the 2006 hurricane season.


Some benefits listed for the system are:

  • Improves safety by making hurricanes more predictable and lessoning potential effects on lives and property when hurricanes do occur.
  • Uses the latest data visualization, integration, and other information technologies to provide a constant, real-time, always-current view of all assets in relation to weather patterns and their environments to minimize losses and save lives.
  • Provides real-time, not snapshot, data that constantly changes to improve decision making.
  • Allows accessibility from anywhere, anytime, and requires no special expertise.
  • Improves performance by enabling better asset management such as delaying production shut in and obtaining information to return wells back on production more quickly and safely after a storm. This enables facilities to supply products faster during a time when they are needed in relief operations.
  • Uses a virtual system accessible on a single, web-based portal from locations with available internet connections.
  • Plugs easily into existing systems and Microsoft-based information technology infrastructures.
  • Requires no special software downloads or expertise for users.
  • Is an integral part of BP’s “field of the future” initiative for improving oil and gas field operations through the use of sensors, control systems, real-time data distribution, and control and optimization modeling.


The Gulf of Mexico monitoring system resides behind BP’s firewall and it can be accessed, with proper permissions, from a web browser on the internet. The system does not require special software or geographic information systems expertise.

BP describes the system as integrating information regarding the facility, weather and ocean conditions, number of people on board, and other data from multiple sources into one system that overlays the data on a virtual map. Data shown include Gulf of Mexico pipelines, and deepwater and shelf platforms, as well as employee residences, offices, fuel terminals, plants, and helicopter pads (Fig. 1).

BP’s hurricane monitoring system uses third-party web services to provide views of how real-time predictive hurricane paths relate to all of its facilities in the Gulf of Mexico (Fig. 1).
Click here to enlarge image

The system monitors major storms in the Gulf of Mexico, and in minutes, can produce a Microsoft Excel report that pinpoints and tracks all people and assets.

Third-party web services provide real-time predictive hurricane paths, loop currents, and weather imagery to enable real-time risk evaluation. When a hurricane is seen, the system tracks historical and predicted paths and provides time to impact for each facility.

The system also can access satellite images of facilities before and after a hurricane to show its health and assess damage so as to allow safer reboarding.

Included in the system also is real-time performance monitoring and interactive charting of topsides, marine subsea, and drilling data. It also allows historical playback for analyzing previous hurricanes.

BP monitors the storms from an onshore control center in Houston or an alternative location if the Houston center is unavailable.


The Visual Fusion Server, from IDV Solutions, presents the data in real-time on a virtual map as intelligent points, lines, and polygons. The Visual Fusion Server is described as a composite application server enabling companies to quickly integrate business and organizational data into web-based interactive visual displays of information.

Microsoft software provides the database and web-based virtual map.

Microsoft Virtual Earth is a satellite imagery mapping application used in a web browser. With Virtual Earth, BP can see the location of its infrastructure and the relationship of the facilities to possible dangerous storms or hurricanes.

Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 provides the portal framework and security, while Microsoft SQL Server is the database that populates data points.