Friday, October 29, 2010

SMU's relationship with BP misunderstood

By Jake Schild
News Editor

The relationship between GeoSpatial Services (GSS) of Saint Mary’s University and British Petroleum (BP) is often misunderstood, according to GSS director Barry Drazkowski.

Drazkowski explained that not only is the group’s partnership with governments and big companies such as BP not fully understood, but also that there is a lack of information regarding GSS generally and what they do.

“A lot of people don’t know much about us,” said Drazkowski.

Drazkowski explained that GSS is a university project center that focuses on three major areas of work: developing web-mapping applications, performing natural resource assessments and building map databases, which is also called production.

Natural resource assessments, which assess key resources of national parks, have grown substantially of late, according to Drazkowski, making up approximately 40 percent of what GSS does.

According to Drazkowski, one popular misconception about GSS is that their only specialty is the production of map databases, which is not the case.

Drazkowski said GSS has had a relationship with BP since 2001, making online map databases of the company’s pipelines. GSS is strictly associated with making these custom databases for BP pipelines and logistics, which has nothing to do with oil drilling, development or refining, said Drazkowski. Therefore, Drazkowski said the recent gulf oil spill did not have much of an effect on the BP groups GSS works with.

“The exploration and development of oil is a completely different kind of British Petroleum company than the kind we work with,” said Drazkowski.

Drazkowski, however, did have some personal opinions surrounding the oil spill.

“I fault British Petroleum for some of the things they did sloppily, but I’m actually more critical of the federal government,” said Drazkowski, explaining his concerns with federal policies that support so much drilling for and exploration of oil.

According to Drazkowski, if federal policies overseeing drilling operations were more austere, he does not think the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico would have happened.

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