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Vertical solution:Oil and gas security resilient despite lower prices

Oil and gas is one of the largest critical infrastructure industries in the world — it is also a critically important economic sector. Therefore, securing and protecting these facilities against cyber and physical attacks is of paramount importance.
Izvor: a&s International 
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Times have been tough for the oil and gas (O&G) industry. Since the collapse of oil prices in 2014, the global O&G industry has been looking to reduce operational costs and increase both productivity and efficiency, all the while dealing with heightened security requirements. Increasing security spending, though, is tough when margins are down as cost-cutting efforts are in effect. At the same time, recent cyber and terrorist attacks on O&G facilities have only highlighted the need for stronger security, both physical and cyber.
The current market
The global oil and gas security and service market size is estimated to reach US$33.9 billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 5.2 percent from 2015 to 2020, according to a report by MarketsandMarkets.
“If you look at the places where we’re being asked to provide security it’s been driven by either incursions or terrorist activity, locally or on other sites. Growth is being driven by direct reaction to this activity and feeling the need to protect their facilities to a higher and greater level,” said David Montague, Security Sales Director for EMEA at FLIR Systems.
According to Bob Fryklund, VP of Research and Analyst at IHS Markit Energy, security in the O&G business has changed dramatically in recent years. This has been a result of the O&G business itself evolving due to the globalization of issues and trade and digitization.
Regardless, Fryklund said, “Security is still focused on the big five: operations, financial, environment, people and information, but the problems are more widespread and more inter-connected. Operation risks now contain components of cybersecurity, plant/facilities, third parties, environment and personnel. There has been strong growth in magnitude and in accountability for risks.”
Although the market is growing, new regulations, political turmoil and instability in the Middle East, alternative energy sources such as renewable energy, and stability and maturity of technologies to fulfill O&G companies’ unmet needs and operational concerns are still hampering growth, according to Derek Tan, Director of the Security Technology and Integration Center of Excellence in APAC at Johnson Controls.
North America leads market share
North America is expected to have the largest market share in O&G security; however, Latin America will grow at the highest CAGR from 2015 to 2020, according to MarketsandMarkets. In terms of technology adoption, North American O&G has been active in adopting the cloud and mobile technologies.
“There has been growth over the past several years in the North American market as exploration for oil and gas on the continent has expanded. Offshore drilling sites, onshore drilling sites and pipelines across North America have grown over the past decade as North American oil has contributed to a larger percentage of the world’s energy sources,” said Rob Borsch, Team Lead for Oil and Gas Practices at Genetec.
Increased confidence in the MEA
Despite the political and local instability in the Middle East and Africa (MEA), companies such as FLIR Systems is seeing a significant increase in demand from areas like Iraq.
“There’s more investment now that troubles are over and more confidence in the area. People seem to be investing more money. So I would say we’re seeing significantly more interest in our products in that region,” Montague said.
Montague pointed to increased demand in Africa as well, particularly for offshore O&G platforms. “Growth has been steady in that area for the last five or six years, so there’s continued interest — no decline that is significant.”
Pirates are one of the biggest challenges for offshore platforms in Africa. “If we look at the offshore platforms, we see people requesting radar particularly. We’ve seen a need for more long-range detection – radars and long-range thermal cameras – so people approaching these platforms with small vessels, such as pirates, can be detected,” Montague explained.
Security considerations
The threat to O&G is unrelenting, and as such it is important that the security environment is up-to-date and ready to protect against all possible incidents. However, the budgets allocated to security departments may be insufficient due to reduced margins and a more challenging economy.
“Given the slump in oil price, security practitioners must have a sound understanding of how to achieve potential cost efficiencies utilizing current security resources, rather than just adding costly resource to them,” said Paul Barker, Associate Consultant at Linx International Group, a U.K.-based security consultant. “It is unlikely companies will automatically get rid of older security technologies, but will look at integrating them where possible with newer systems.”
Andrea Sorri, Business Development Director of Government, City Surveillance and Critical Infrastructure at Axis Communications, explained, “As the market has evolved, we have seen traditional security use cases converge with safety and environment solutions. In practical terms, this means the integration of new hardware components into existing platforms. This allows for remote operation, testing, uninterrupted production and extended surveillance from the central control room. End users and partners are particularly focusing on high-quality imaging and performance when selecting cameras, as they improve the daily activities of their plants, when image quality is superior.”
It is also crucial to understand the environment. For example Barker highlighted the need to understand the real issues at a location, recent incidents and stakeholder, partner and competitor activities to assess and mitigate the current threat adversaries. This includes a clear understanding of host government initiatives and working with a company’s own national government to influence the host government.
Tan also addressed the need “to ensure that the vehicles and the pipes that transport these oil/gas are safe from the multi-faceted threats that could come from land, air and sea. Oil and gas facilities and especially the oil/gas pipes running across large areas are very vulnerable to terrorist attack, sabotage and stealing.”
Tan also addressed the need “to ensure that the vehicles and the pipes that transport these oil/gas are safe from the multi-faceted threats that could come from land, air and sea. Oil and gas facilities and especially the oil/gas pipes running across large areas are very vulnerable to terrorist attack, sabotage and stealing.”
Sought after solutions
Surveillance of O&G companies has evolved over the years. The adoption of automated video analytics, deployment of IoT (Internet of Things) sensors to monitor pipes, and centralization of enterprise command centers to manage the numerous security systems across huge geographical areas are all solutions the current O&G industry is looking for.
The key component of any video surveillance system is of course the camera. In O&G, the use of both visible-light and thermal cameras are common, for both general surveillance and perimeter security.
However, technologies such as long-range radar are gaining a foothold. “If you look at onshore O&G we’ve seen things evolve into a longer range, further distance. Before we would just provide a tripwire for a perimeter, but now they want long-range detection,” Montague said. “What we’re also seeing is when someone is detected, we’re being requested to track that target as well. So when something triggers an alarm we’re being asked to hand that target over to a PTZ camera and track that target.”
Next-generation real-time video analytics that incorporates artificial intelligence and deep-learning is also attracting a lot of attention in the sector, according to Erez Goldstein, Director of Marketing at Qognify.
“For example, the ability to locate and monitor the whereabouts (and past locations) of a person within seconds, by intelligently and automatically searching the entire video surveillance network. This is proving compelling proposition for managing ‘live’ events but also assisting in post-incident investigations,” Goldstein said.
Updating access control
Many O&G organizations are updating their access control systems, replacing analog equipment with IP-based solutions.
Borsch highlighted the need for TWIC-compliant access control solutions. “The TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Credential) program provides a tamper-resistant biometric credential to maritime workers requiring unescorted access to restricted and/or dangerous areas. The program is crucial given the distributed and remote sites of oil and gas facilities, as well as the uniquely high access management standards that the industry faces,” he said.
Although access to O&G sites is still often overseen by video surveillance systems and security control room staff, integration and automation of access control is gaining traction.
“Automation reduces the amount of manual work associated with the access management of a site by allowing security and operations teams to leverage additional inputs or remotely manage access, reducing the need for a large amount of local operators,” Borsch said.
“An emerging trend that we’ve seen is the increasing use of LPR technology to manage gate access. The ability to read a vehicle’s plate, check the legitimacy of the plate against a database, and then grant access if required automates the access management at certain sites,” he added.
Dealing with cybersecurity threats 
Cyberthreats have proven to be no joke, with hackers taking over critical systems and putting at risk a lot more than just data.
“Recent cyberattacks on national and organizational structures that targeted SCADA systems as well as desktop systems highlight the potential for significant impact on installations. The potential for systems to be compromised, leading to critical failures, is great. Coupled with increasingly converged security systems that may be vulnerable to attack, the risks from cyberattacks are high,” Barker said. “Factors such as user error, outdated systems and the use of portable devices such as tablets and smartphones increase the risk.”
Fryklund noted, “Cybersecurity is a bigger threat as we move to more automation and we send more data across the internet on operations. Much of the production data for wells is now sent over the internet. In refineries and chem plants, data on operations is sent. The ability to access it remotely provides opportunities for disruption and the ability to shut down power and communication.”
As such, it is imperative that the O&G industry is up to the task of shielding against cyberattacks and is capable of dealing with the risks of the digital transformation. “The Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, drafted by the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), is a set of standards and best practices intended to assist critical infrastructure organizations in addressing cybersecurity risks. This framework helps companies adopt risk management best practices, and helps them to develop bespoke guidelines that effectively address cybersecurity risks,” Borsch said.
From a physical security standpoint, network cameras are a point of vulnerability if not properly secured.
“Hacked network cameras can lead to the potential distribution of denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which could affect IT applications as well as security and safety services,” Sorri explained. “It’s important to partner with a supplier that’s prepared to support you at every level. At Axis, cybersecurity is at the heart of everything we do. We have strict requirements for our own products and we’re working diligently with our partners to fight this threat.”
Ensuring security and safety 
While the debate on whether or not oil prices will ever reach $100 a barrel again continues, the need for security is certain. Ensuring the best security and safety plan requires more than just the latest equipment and newest upgrades, but also remembering best practices.
“We have found that just building and deploying a visual solution is not sufficient to ensure success. We focus on delivering a change management process that includes training, ongoing support, user analytics and periodic application ‘check-ins’ generally results in a higher level of engagement and a more successful deployment. This change management process also creates a stronger long-term relationship with the customer,” Bernard said.
By following best practices, O&G facilities can make certain their security and safety solutions are not only up to current challenges but able to adapt to any challenges that may come their way in the future.
Physical security information management (PSIM) solutions are an excellent tool for O&G.
PSIM/situation management continues to be one of the most in demand security solutions in the O&G sector for its ability to integrate systems and sensors.
“PSIM and VMS are converging in terms of features and functionality, with the focus on situational awareness and incident management for critical infrastructure. Customer demand will be a crucial factor in extending the integration of PSIM and VMS with DCS and SCADA systems,” said Andrea Sorri, Business Development Director of Government, City Surveillance and Critical Infrastructure at Axis Communications.
Erez Goldstein, Director of Marketing at Qognify, explained the benefits of implementing a strong VMS and PSIM solution: “Prior to implementing our VMS and PSIM solution, a company was spending $8 million each year on guarding to remotely monitor sites, including asset storage locations, transportation hubs, shipping and receiving locations, manufacturing facilities, education centers and administration buildings. By moving work that was previously conducted by on-site security guards to the Global Security Operations Center (GSOC), the company has cut costs by 15 percent.”
Drones are being used in O&G to monitor pipelines, giving O&G operators a bird’s eye view of remote areas.
Drones are a bit controversial as a security tool. Despite being an exciting, emerging tool, they are also seen as an external threat. “There have been numerous reports of drones flying over refineries, storage and production sites, so the ability to identify and respond to these external threats is an issue that oil and gas organizations are currently trying to address,” said Rob Borsch, Team Lead for Oil and Gas Practices at Genetec.
However, there’s a big drive toward using drones to secure and monitor O&G pipelines, according to David Montague, Security Sales Director for EMEA at FLIR Systems. “It’s difficult to secure these remote sites with fixed cameras because they are always vulnerable to attack. People can defeat the cameras quite easily at remote sites. So what we’re seeing is a greater demand for drones to monitor O&G pipelines; set them out automatically and have them come back to a station and report activity,” Montague said.
Drone use, though, comes with challenges. Paul Barker, Associate Consultant at Linx International Group, noted that while there are moves against using drones for aerial patrols of pipelines and perimeters, “there is increasing legislation to limit drone use which may prevent the technology being widely used. Manpower for patrolling purposes generates employment and boosts the economy; drones do not.”


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