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Oil & Gas Reaching for Higher Ground with Integrated Security and Surveillance

28 January 2015

Reaching for Higher Ground with Integrated Security and Surveillance graphicThe global oil and gas industry is home to some of the smartest technologies on the planet. This ranges from increasing the odds of finding reserves through seismic sound wave analysis and 3D data visualisations, through to injecting lower salt content water, CO2, or micro-organisms into trapped deposits, to boost the levels of recoverable oil and extend the life of projects.

However, despite operating some of the world’s most advanced and valuable assets, it is an industry often characterised as a cautious adopter of new security and surveillance solutions, with operators preferring to deploy tried and tested CCTV technology.

With spending on oil and gas infrastructure security frequently cited as an area of growth, we wanted to catch up with Amedeo Simonetto, Business Development Director at Synectics, to get his thoughts on the adoption of innovation, and where he believes the oil and gas security market is headed.

Compared to other security sectors, has the oil and gas industry been quick to embrace integrated surveillance solutions?

It’s true that the adoption of surveillance technologies in the oil and gas market tends to trail developments in other industrial and commercial sectors. But this doesn’t mean that security is any less important, and over the last few years the market has embraced integrated surveillance solutions more and more. While the application of these may not be as dynamic as in a casino or city centre, the challenges are no less complex, and the benefits no less significant.

What practical benefits are operators seeing from this move towards integrated solutions?

Rather than separate control solutions or positions for each subsystem, a common platform has several benefits. One platform makes it easier for people to use several components together, and can help increase a site’s situational awareness. If you can quickly see all relevant information, you get the bigger picture.

Take, for example, integrating perimeter intrusion detection systems into a command and control system. Alarms can trigger cameras to move automatically into position and provide visual verification of the alarm. A user can then see if this is vehicle, human or object, if it poses a viable threat, and deal with the incident accordingly.

You can, of course, take this approach further to unlock more benefits. Greater integration allows rules-based workflows, acting on data from multiple systems, to guide operators to an appropriate incident or event response. They also help system users navigate through detailed standard operating procedures, which may be driven by strict regulatory requirements.

Clearly, there are also cost savings associated with integration; these could be related to capital project savings or other elements, like training or operational efficiencies.

What’s the impact of this on risk management?

The risk of terrorism remains the number one concern, and, as attacks become more and more sophisticated, solutions must remain able to cope with this.

Prevention and speed of reaction is key. Integrating technologies like radar and long range cameras into a surveillance solution can help to mitigate this risk. Should the worst happen, there might be the need to send information to an offsite location or to emergency services and response teams. The ability to transmit footage of an attack, and pinpoint the locations of incidents across potentially vast sites, can be a significant advantage.

Integrated surveillance solutions can also play a key role in protecting against internal risks. This can include checking that the right people are undertaking the right activities. For example, ensuring a person is authorised to be in a particular area, has up-to-date training records and certifications, and that the area is safe to be worked in. Integration with access control systems and biometric solutions is an important consideration here, and may also provide an added degree of security.

How do you see the future path for integrated surveillance solutions?

Integration is a trend that will continue to grow and the practices of deploying integrated over siloed solutions will increase. This growth will be driven by the threats and risks we’ve discussed. Oil and gas assets are highly valuable, and security is no longer an afterthought; it is integral, and gaining in momentum and importance.

When I talk to people in the industry there’s genuine excitement around developments like GIS mapping, and so-called ‘PSIM’ functionality. Excitement is great, but for these to have a real and lasting impact for operators they need to be developed and presented in an informed way.

Experience and expertise really matter here.

Those solution providers who understand the challenges faced by the market; who have a strong knowledge of regulatory requirements and the specific equipment required; who know how overall systems are put together; who are able to produce the complex documentation required; who have the right level of technical support and aftersales, will be the ones that help the industry reach new heights with integrated systems.