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Coronavirus puts greater focus on oil and gas physical security technology

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Oilfield Technology,

Chris Keane, Genasys, explains why Covid-19 has meant the importance of implementing advanced oil and natural gas (ONG) physical security technology can’t be overstated.

The importance of security technology for land and sea-based ONG facilities has become critical due to Covid-19. Staff and security personnel traveling from other locations, the need to quarantine based on a positive test or potential exposure, and compliance with local or national requirements, has created staffing challenges across nearly all industry positions. Physical barriers, warning and distancing capabilities, and personnel safety communications technology are imperative to help ensure a healthy working environment and provide essential, real time information to security personnel and employees.

Economic and political upheaval from the pandemic has also intensified potential site security issues. The most effective security practices involve tactical layers that complement each other and are well-coordinated to maximise success. Fences and cameras are essential, but passive in nature and require constant monitoring. When security breaches occur, site distance from law enforcement and associated response times, particularly in remote locations, can be problematic. Facilities can be severely damaged, equipment stolen, and employees potentially exposed to life-threatening situations. Added security capabilities can protect perimeters, prevent unauthorised access, minimise loss, preserve facility uptime and increase employee safety.

With budgets and resources stretched and ongoing fiscal uncertainty from both the virus and ONG supply and demand instability, cost-effective perimeter security and emergency warning solutions demonstrably bolster site security strategies. Technologies now available utilise remotely-operated pan-and-tilt security systems that feature HD and infrared cameras, high-powered spotlights, and acoustic devices that broadcast audible warning tones and voice messages that determine the intent of intruders and influence their behaviour. These systems turn passive surveillance systems and command and control centres into proactive, remote first responders. Integration with radar further provides a highly robust, automated perimeter security solution.

These systems are built to withstand the often remote geographic and harsh environmental conditions prevalent at many ONG facilities. These systems also feature satellite control and solar power options; exceptional vocal clarity and large coverage areas; easy integration with sensors and alarms; multi-modal activation and control options; compatibility with major emergency warning protocols and systems integrations; and geo-specific cell phone and mobile alerts.

By utilising the system’s HD and infrared cameras, and broadcasting safe, audible voice commands and warning tones, operators can remotely identify, warn and the determine the intent of security threats. Given staffing uncertainties caused by the pandemic and the associated economic turmoil in the industry, this full-featured security technology layer can reduce false alarms and protect security personnel and employees during this difficult period and beyond.

These systems can also be used for coronavirus-specific communications. Static and mobile voice broadcast capabilities enable operators to communicate critical information to employees within the facilities or authorised visitors seeking entrance to an ONG site. Broadcasting clear and consistent protocols for safe site entrance is essential to maintaining health safety for all personnel. Given that virus outbreaks have closed facilities across multiple industries and the necessity of protecting personnel and site assets at all times, the importance of implementing advanced ONG physical security technology can’t be overstated.

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