Facilities and pipelines that are not protected may be susceptible to all kinds of security threats. The future of the energy industry depends heavily on infrastructure protection.
“There has been growing recognition of the importance of protecting onshore gas and oil pipelines and infrastructure in recent years. A significant amount of money is at stake, as theft is prevalent in this domain”, says Nir Bar Natan, VP of Business Development and Sales at Beesense, a company that designs, develops, and manufactures multi-sensor technology-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems for homeland security and defence.
“Moreover, gas and oil facilities themselves are vulnerable, as was demonstrated by the Iranian-backed Houthi movement drone attack on oil processing facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais in eastern Saudi Arabia, which resulted in extensive property damage, production shutdown, and millions of dollars of losses. This has resulted in a heightened awareness of the need to protect these assets”.
Onshore oil and gas infrastructure is critical for the energy industry, and its security must be ensured. Typically located in remote areas, these facilities are vulnerable to theft, vandalism, and terrorism. Energy shortages, price spikes, and other economic and social problems may result from disruptions in oil and natural gas production. Therefore, protecting onshore oil and gas infrastructure and pipelines is essential to maintaining a reliable supply of energy for years to come and ensuring the security and stability of the energy industry.
North America, the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and Africa all have onshore oil and gas infrastructure. Oil and natural gas deposits in each region determine where these facilities will be located. Among the countries with significant onshore oil and gas infrastructure are the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Norway, the United Kingdom, China, India, Nigeria, Algeria, and Angola.
Security measures for onshore infrastructure are multi-layered and vary depending on the location, size, and operation of the facility. It’s vital that various preventative measures are implemented to prevent damage to the pipelines and ensure the safe and reliable transportation of these resources. “It is necessary to secure long, kilometres-long oil and gas pipelines. These pipelines contain crucial facilities that require maintenance at critical points”, says Bar Natan.
“In gas pipelines, critical points refer to locations where infrastructure and equipment are present that are essential for pipeline safety and operations. A pipeline can contain compressor stations, valve sites, regulator stations, and other equipment that regulates and monitors the flow of gas. In order to ensure the safe and reliable operation of the pipeline network and to prevent any potential accidents or disruptions, it is imperative to protect these critical points”.
״Any damage or unauthorised access to these critical points could cause significant disruptions to the gas supply, which could result in severe consequences such as production shutdowns, financial losses, and even harm to human life and the environment. As such, it is vital to mitigate the risks associated with pipeline operations”.
– What solutions are available to protect gas pipelines?
“The objective is to proactively detect individuals who intend to steal or sabotage the pipeline. Generally, ground-based uncooled thermal cameras are better suited to short-range situations, whereas cooled cameras are better suited to long-range scenarios. By displaying temperature variations at gas leakage points, thermal detection technology can differentiate undamaged pipelines from leaky and compromised pipelines. With the high incidence of gas theft, detecting pirated attempts is crucial.
“Drones that fly along fixed routes and inspect pipelines, capturing images and identifying faults or leaks, are one of the best ways to protect gas pipelines. It is also possible to identify leaks or thefts using autonomous vehicles that scan gas pipelines back and forth. Even though this represents the future of oil and gas infrastructure protection, it will take some time for autonomous vehicles to become operational due to the terrain’s complexity”.
Bar Natan adds: “Beesense provides gas pipeline protection through a wide range of solutions: The Firefly, a compact multi-sensorEO/IR/Radar designed for perimeter security in short-range situations. The BEE family of multi-sensor systems is an excellent option for medium to long-range scenarios. It is an advanced day-and-night observation system ideal for critical assets, borders, and pipeline protection. As for portable solutions, the Mantis is a lightweight, multi-sensor, remotely-controlled covert surveillance system specially designed for force protection and special operations. The Mantis system can provide continuous surveillance and target detection with advanced imagery, DSP, and communication technologies”.
“In addition to providing comprehensive perimeter security, Beesense’s systems act as a virtual ‘fence’ that detects unauthorised entry, identifies targets and analyses them to minimise false alarms (essential for protecting lone pipelines without having to respond to every alert). Continuous 24/7 monitoring is provided by Beesense’s systems regardless of weather conditions or environmental conditions”.
– Let’s talk about oil and gas facility protection.
“Due to the strategic importance of large production facilities, comprehensive protection is often required, and any damage could amount to millions of dollars. As a result, oil and gas companies invest considerable resources in their protection. Oil and gas facilities are protected at the far end of the defence line by the state defence forces. Gas and oil companies are responsible for closer protection. It is crucial, however, to ensure that the relevant systems are installed throughout the entire production and transportation chain, from the facilities to the pipelines”, says Bar Natan.
“Protecting oil and gas onshore infrastructure from UAVs can be achieved through a variety of measures, both physical and technological. It is also possible to protect against UAV threats using technological solutions such as jamming and spoofing. UAVs can be jammed by sending radio signals that interfere with their control systems, causing them to lose control or crash. The process of spoofing involves tricking the UAV’s GPS into thinking it is in a different location or flying in another direction, causing the UAV to lose its intended target.
“Protecting oil and gas onshore platforms from UAVs requires physical and technological measures, training and education. A UAV threat should be recognised and responded to appropriately by personnel”.
Onshore platform security has been improved through numerous initiatives implemented by the industry to mitigate these challenges. Industry organisations such as the American Petroleum Institute (API) have established standards and best practices for security measures. Government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) provide guidance and oversight to ensure the security of onshore platforms.
Using advanced sensing technologies, security personnel can detect and respond to potential threats quickly and effectively, protecting consumers’ and personnel’s safety and security. An integrated approach incorporating various methods can help reduce the risk of damage or security breaches to oil and gas onshore infrastructure.
Beesense’s Nir Bar Natan adds: “Protection of onshore oil and gas infrastructure and pipelines is a top priority for oil and gas companies, as well as state actors and insurance companies. The interests of all parties involved align, and whoever delivers the protection and detection systems can offer a comprehensive solution that serves everyone”.
In conclusion, the protection of onshore oil and gas infrastructure and pipelines is crucial to ensuring the stability and reliability of global energy supplies. The implementation of comprehensive security measures is essential since theft, vandalism, and terrorism pose significant threats to these critical assets. Companies like Beesense are at the forefront of providing innovative solutions, such as multi-sensor systems and C-UAS Protection technologies, to address these challenges. An integrated and proactive approach to securing onshore oil and gas infrastructure can protect energy resources and ensure industry security for years to come with the cooperation of industry stakeholders, government agencies, and private security providers.