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Strength in unity: pipeline security

by Arabian Oil & Gas Staff on May 11, 2014

Pipeline security should look at all aspects of the human and physical landscape that the pipeline sits within.
Pipeline security should look at all aspects of the human and physical landscape that the pipeline sits within.

The question of ‘what next’ when considering upstream pipeline security is actually one that should not just focus on physical infrastructure.

By looking at security holistically, rather than a consideration vectored onto a particular site, the question changes from ‘what should I do next’ to ‘what could I being doing better now’?

Of course the pipeline remains a worthy focal point when considering lost revenue and other second and third order effects both upstream and downstream in the event of a breach.
However, viewing it in isolation as a key vulnerability is in many respects allowing some of the first layers of your security to be compromised – purely because they have not been fully considered. It is actually these early breaches that make the application of technological measures less effective when denying an incident at the actual focal point.

In essence, you need to look at all aspects of the human and physical landscape that your pipeline sits within.

Within the human landscape, this includes an understanding of the local population, engaging with the local power brokers and leadership, understanding what is the main source of income in the area, identifying what percentage of the population is working within your industry or area, and what history there has been of issues (both positive and negative).

Understanding and staying attuned to some of these issues and not repeating past mistakes, can become just as effective as any piece of equipment or incident response team (IRT).
At the very least, they are a key enabler to the success of physical security measures.

Through involvement in some of the security architecture, or even demonstrating the benefits of the pipeline’s enduring success to the community and region, a sense of ownership and thus corresponding protection by those that know the physical terrain is created.

It is when merging this local knowledge and sense of protection and pride with physical security measures on site, that a truly integrated and widely cast security net takes shape. What it also does, is allows you to undertake, with greater clarity, a security risk assessment (SRA).

By understanding the physical and human environment as nested considerations, you may find that the resources initially thought to be required are not needed in such quantity or can be weighted only in the most vulnerable areas. Essentially it is helping define the type and placement of your physical measures.

So what now of these physical security measures? Well, once again it is an approach that sees further layering and integration. In today’s operating environment, there is a wide spectrum of technological systems and devices on offer to aid in pipeline and other key infrastructure security.

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