7 Feb /13

Oil, Gas, and Security: Are supply lines and production facilities safe from pirates, terrorists, and other security threats?

oil gas securityUnlike previous generations of terrorists, modern terrorists mainly direct their attacks against “soft” civilian targets. Among these “soft targets,” the most frequently targeted are naturally those institutions or structures that promise the most devastating impact to the aggressors. The recent attacks on the BP operated gas field in In Amenas confirmed the worst fears of many industry insiders- namely that oil and gas operations abroad might increasingly become targets of radical militants.

The notion that militants are targeting energy production sites is, of course, not a recent phenomenon. For decades, operations in Africa, South America, and the Middle East have faced a number of security threats from violent worker uprisings to pipeline sabotages. But the occupation of In Amenas has revealed a whole new level of determination and organization, as the goal of the terrorists’ mission was not only to disrupt the operation but to destroy the entire site.

As a result of last week’s events, the entire industry will have to rethink the ways in which E&P sites are currently secured and develop new strategies not only to prevent large scale attacks by heavily armed militants, abut also institute procedures on how to react once a terrorist attack is underway. Surely, these questions will preoccupy security advisors and facility operators for years to come, but essentially security starts at the source. A good security system requires knowing who is working at the production facility. The staff will most likely include local semi-skilled workers, foreign and domestic skilled and professional workers, and a security contingent, which will most likely involve members of a contracted security firm. A common denominator that often facilitates terrorist activities is a breakdown of communication between these 3 groups. Therefore, it is essential that each group knows what role it is expected to play and what it should expect of itself; what to expect of the other groups. Additionally a viable means of communicating should be in place that can withstand emergency situations and allow communication between the groups as well as to the outside in the event of an attack. If these lines of communication are firmly established and the electronic hardware up to date and managed by trained personnel both on- and offsite, it is likely that the majority security issues will be resolved before they can escalate. Accordingly, even in the event of attack, appropriate responses could be administered in a very short time frame.

Equally vulnerable to terrorist attacks is the upstream supply chain. For oil and natural gas, transportation involves either tanker ships or a complex pipeline network. Both systems are especially vulnerable to interference as they often traverse isolated geographies and national borders. These factors make it difficult to coordinate a stringent security system from start to finish. In order to prevent such a scenario from happening, it is essential that all entities along the transportation route are able to understand and communicate seamlessly with all other entities on the route. To prepare for and deal with these unavoidable threats, it is necessary that a protocol is put into place that will ensure that all counter-terrorism measures along multinational supply routes will be coordinated. Thankfully, a large degree of the risk can be eliminated simply by clear, transparent means of communication between all parties, even when each party is speaking a different language.

EVS Translations can help you put into place stringent and effective security policies by providing effective language solutions for your security systems and personnel. We know the industry and the challenges it is facing. Call us directly at: 404-523-5560 or email us for a free consultation at usa(at)evs-translations.com.