Enhanced security for oil and gas facilities in a volatile world

Albert Aspden's picture
Albert Aspden, Chief Engineer (Telecoms), Kentz, SNC-Lavalin
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Oil and gas facilities are usually situated in remote locations. These areas are often geo-politically sensitive areas, with infrastructure that has little, if any, protection. Nonetheless, these facilities need to have personnel on site and often represent several billions of dollars of an investment portfolio, making them high in both monetary and strategic value, and at risk of sabotage or attack.

A client requested a solution to provide protection systems for a vast gas field from such malicious threats. The objective was to design a system that would:

  • DETECT a potential threat;
  • ASSESS the threat (friend or foe);
  • ACT on the threat

This paper discusses the technology options considered and the prescribed solution: Using access control systems and CCTV surveillance to protect numerous facilities and major gas pipelines across a geographic area of some 1,300 square km.

Background: The field in question comprised 120 stations of various sizes, including warehouses, gas-oil separation plants, and water injection plants. The client specified that the security protection system was to provide access control for entrances/exits and fence-line CCTV surveillance, as well as CCTV security surveillance of tens of kilometers of sensitive major pipelines.

(Map of major gas pipelines to be protected over 1300km2)

While this paper focuses on those particular systems, the FEED also covered elements such as control room modifications, including civil engineering for room extension/modification, acoustic paneling, ceilings, flooring and ergonomics. Consideration was also given to HVAC for additional cooling, electrical engineering for power and lighting, specialist telecoms engineering for extension of LAN, access control, CCTV storage and retrieval with video wall and instrumentation engineering for fire and gas modifications.

Results, Observations, Conclusions: Technical challenges included determining number and location of cameras to facilitate control room intervention and incident response while overcoming limited focal lengths of cameras, poor visibility in a dusty environment, and stability issues of camera towers. Also, in this vast and remote location, any devices would have to be solar-powered and sufficiently robust to survive the extreme desert environment.

Illuminating 1,300km2 video surveillance was impractical, so thermal imaging cameras were considered, as well as use of dual technology of both optical and thermal cameras. However, initial calculations of camera quantities prescribed by the client meant multiple video feeds monitored by multiple security operators, leading to image overload and compromising security.

These constraints lead to a solution based on ‘blind’ surveillance by ground radars integrated with medium- and long-range optical/thermal pan, tilt and zoom cameras that automatically lock the nearest camera onto any target DETECTed. The security operator is then able to ASSESS and ACT on the target. This solution provides added value by delivering a single view security operator screen when the client’s prescription for multiple views was deemed unworkable.

Already proven in a major gas port facility, the proposed security design provides a robust, effective and efficient solution to ensure the facilities are safeguarded and that risks are as low as reasonably practicable as prescribed by the client.

(Image: Proposed concept of operation combining ground radar and cameras.)

Peter Flynn, Global Business Development Director, Telecoms & Electronics will present this topic in detail at Gastech. Click here for more information.

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