Future Fibre Technologies solutions protect oil, gas infrastructure

The Middle East’s high proportion of critical infrastructure, its political instability and increasing global energy prices combine to present special challenges to the suppliers and operators responsible for protecting the critical oil and gas infrastructures in the region.

Security issues typically revolve around two key areas – the plant and equipment (oil refineries, LNG plants, etc.), and the products’ transportation (pipelines) and the security requirements for each of these are quite different, as are the range of solutions available.

Regardless of the application or solution selected, the most important item by far in any security plan is to actually have a plan, and secondly, to have a procedure in place for responding to an intrusion.

Plant and equipment protection

For refineries, LNG and petrochemical plants, the main security threats come from intruders and deliberate sabotage. Often, the first line of defence at these facilities is a perimeter fence which, while succeeding to delay or deter intruders, is largely ineffective in protecting the entire perimeter. Obviously, a 6 to 10 km perimeter fence can easily be climbed or lifted in a number of places to allow completely undetected access to a site.

In the past, CCTV cameras employing Video Motion Detection (VMD) technology held great promise, but experience has shown that they have been prone to nuisance alarms, thereby reducing their effectiveness over time.

Similarly, traditional fence mounted intrusion detection sensors have proved less than ideal solutions, as they require power and electronics to be deployed every few hundred metres along the fence line, which is expensive to provide and intrinsically unsafe. In addition, their extremely basic processing power meant they typically traded off detection sensitivity to reduce nuisance alarms, ultimately undermining the very security these systems were originally intended to provide.

According to FFT’s International Client Manager, Alec Owen, Future Fibre Technologies’ current generation of fibre optic based fence mounted intrusion detection technologies have overcome these problems to deliver a state of the art security system which is being used to protect an increasing number of the world’s refineries, LNG and petrochemical plants, as well as military bases, sensitive government facilities and other critical infrastructures.

The FFT product, Secure Fence, uses its Digital Signal Processing technology to overcome the problems of nuisance alarms.

“The technology uses signature recognition and advanced learning algorithms to “know” the difference between a branch blowing against a fence in a storm and an attempted intrusion,” says Owen.

“The fact that the system does not require any power or electronics to be installed on the fence line at all makes it ideally suited to the Oil and Gas industry,” he said.

For oil and gas companies wanting the ultimate plant protection solution, Future Fibre Technologies recommends a fence mounted fibre optic detection system, linking back to the main security centre and ideally interfacing to CCTV cameras to provide visual confirmation to security staff so they can determine the exact nature of the intrusion or threat that they face.

It’s this type of configuration that the company has already installed on the perimeter fences at six critical LNG plants in the GCC in the last 12 months.

FFT’s Secure Fence, has the added advantage of being available in an Arabic version, which delivers an intuitive and easy to understand graphical alarm interface to security staff in their local language and works with the company’s patented Alarm Recognition and Discrimination (ARaD) technology.

“The other advantage of Secure Fence is its ability to pinpoint the location of intrusions to better than 25 metres anywhere along the entire perimeter fence,” Owen says. “It’s this level of accuracy that clients demand today.

“The traditional 200 or 400 metre zones are simply not good enough anymore,” he said.

Pipeline protection

Like plants and equipment, pipelines must be protected to prevent theft, sabotage or third party interference (TPI) and once again, traditional protection methods have delivered extremely inconsistent results.

Regular pipeline patrols, periodic flyovers by aircraft and/or satellite imagery are prohibitively expensive and rely on being in just the right place at just the right time, resulting in a very low probability of detection and virtually no early warning.

Future Fibe Technologies’ state of the art advanced fibre optic based pipeline protection system, Secure Pipe, can detect and pinpoint the location of digging activities near pipelines – in real time, before the pipeline is damaged.

Alec Owen, from FFT, says Secure Pipe is a much lower cost than alternative methods, it can often use existing fibre optic cables as the sensor to reduce costs even further, provides valuable early warning of an event before pipeline damage or loss occurs and it can protect pipelines thousands of kilometres long. It monitors entire pipelines for interference in real time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“The Secure Pipe system has been successfully deployed on many oil and gas pipelines around the world, protecting thousands of kilometers since its launch in 2002. The latest application has been for protecting high pressure gas pipelines for Gaz de France and Fluxys in Europe recently to meet the new EU safety requirements,” Owen says.

There’s no doubt that the latest generation of detection products are far more advanced than their predecessors, resulting in quicker, cheaper and smarter protection of assets and infrastructures.

See for yourself why FFT is the ultimate force in fibre optic intrusion detection and location systems. Visit the team at stand G092 at Milipol or visit www.fft-emea.com.