Oil and Gas Explorer


Hilcorp Energy

Executive Summary

Hilcorp sought to improve its exploration efforts with updated satellite imagery and a centralized resource that could serve proprietary geospatial data irrespective of source or location. Hilcorp utilized Google Maps EngineTM, a platform that uses Google’s world-class servers to create, manage, and share geospatial data, to accomplish this and more. Through improved information sharing and decision-making, Hilcorp has since realized increased efficiency in coordinating and executing its exploratory operations, resulting in significant labor cost savings and enhanced visibility into lucrative exploration opportunities.

At a Glance

As a mid-market exploration and production firm, Hilcorp Energy Co is focused on oil and natural gas in the United States. Founded in 1989, Hilcorp has grown to over 1,000 employees across 11 different regions in the United States, focused mainly around the Cook Inlet in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. In the last five years alone, Hilcorp has completed over $2 billion in oil and gas property acquisitions, increasing its reserves and production exponentially.


Given the inherent geospatial nature of energy exploration and production, Hilcorp had a wide array of maps to manage. Organizing such a large collection of geospatial data, including pipeline data, oil wells, and lease maps, is no simple task. Hilcorp, like many companies in the industry, was having trouble maintaining consistency, as agents in the field relied on standard, publically available Google MapsTM and EarthTM imagery, which did not match the less recent imagery that the teams used to create the maps back in the office. These discrepancies created immense coordination problems for Hilcorp.

The Solution

Thermopylae Sciences & Technology (TST) worked closely with Google in determining which technologies would best meet Hilcorp’s use case. All parties agreed that Google Maps Engine was the most appropriate for several key reasons: First, Hilcorp required a central hub to store and relay GIS data company-wide, both in the office and in the field. Google Maps Engine does this very well, enabling users to visualize their geospatial content on top of satellite imagery, road and terrain maps, and more. Furthermore, this central repository allows users to serve this content via Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards such as WMS, as well as through Google Maps, Earth, and the API, thereby letting Hilcorp work with this data on a wide range of clients, including ArcGIS and PETRA. Finally, storing this data in one central repository allows for simple version control and collaboration, so users always have the most recent data on hand.

Committed to going above and beyond for our customers, TST met with Hilcorp at their corporate headquarters to assist in deployment. TST sent two dedicated engineers, specialized in Google Maps Engine, to spend a week onsite with Hilcorp’s staff, focused on discovery and staging, map planning and data migration, map creation and training, and systems integration. Upon discovering that the customer had additional needs that Google Maps Engine could not meet “out of the box,” TST devoted additional resources to architect customized elements for the solution.


Google Maps Engine makes it easy for Hilcorp to manage mapping data, process imagery, render 2D & 3D maps, style and tile data sets, and then publish the maps to be accessed via Google Earth, GIS applications, or simply embedded in a website. Once published, users can then run spatial queries against the data hosted on the platform, and share or discover maps in a collaborative environment.


By combining the powerful and feature-packed Google platform with Thermopylae’s creative problem-solving, Hilcorp was able to implement a comprehensive GIS solution. With Google Maps Engine, Hilcorp was finally able to effectively organize and manage its extensive collection of geospatial content, including pipeline data, oil well locations, and lease maps. In doing so, Hilcorp was able to visualize its proprietary data over consistent and up-to-date satellite imagery to better plan and coordinate its Exploration and Production (E&P) operations. Through increased efficiency in coordinating and executing its exploratory operations, Hilcorp has since achieved significant labor cost savings and gained better insight into opportunities of interest.

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