Oilfield theft is, and has been, a pervasive issue that haunts the energy sector. While the crime is longstanding and widespread, only recently has the dialogue began to open up a little bit more about the size of this problem and the things we can do to combat it. Figures estimate that the losses due to oilfield theft, nationally, hit a low estimate of 1 billion dollars to date, though the many unreported incidences of theft suggest that the number may be much higher. Oilfields make an easy target due to their remote nature, which has owners asking – How can I increase my oilfield security?
The answer to that question, it seems, is “technology.” A rapid expansion in communications and monitoring technologies in the last ten years have enabled before-untold options for mitigating loss on and around the field. Here, we’ll list five ways that technology can increase oilfield security, though there are more than five ways, to be sure.
- Remote Surveillance – Remote surveillance has come a long way from the closed-circuit cameras of yesterday. Today, we have systems that can not only provide an HD live-feed of the site in question, but can even employ additional systems such as night vision and motion detection. These new abilities of remote surveillance won’t completely replace the need for on-site security, but can greatly augment their ability to monitor and record the premises, especially with features like accessing the live feed on phones or tablets.
- Gate Control – In the past, gate control required a bit more of a generalized approach: You either had an analogue padlock, which was only as preventative as its keys were rare, or a basic automatic access system with an easily-replicated passcode. New advents in streaming technology enable gate guards to view the gate from any remote location and grant or deny access to the site in question. This case-by-case ability of gate control strictly limits the amount of unseen people passing through the site.
- Leak Monitoring & Prevention – When we talk about oilfield security, the conversation is actually larger than just a simple matter of shrink prevention; we also need to consider pitfalls such as liability due to incidence. It’s no secret that there are occasional leaks or spikes in flow through gas lines, and this can spiral out of hand if left unchecked, leading to lots of fugitive emissions. Advanced gas monitoring systems such as our remote methane leak detection enable a variety of options for preventing and responding to leaks that far surpass the old methods of monitoring, through means such as infrared monitoring systems or battery-powered single-point monitoring modules. Monitoring storage leaks is one of the most important options for minimizing shrink in the current oil climate. While it’s low-key, storage is a vital stage of the process; it’s the last link in the chain before the field can get paid for the actual efforts they put forth. With the looming threat of oilfield theft threatening profits, leaks from storage containers pose a much-unneeded risk. Petrocloud’s remote monitoring systems can be equipped with solar panels to make remote monitoring a reliable, low-maintenance feature of your field, minimizing shrink by loss.
- SCADA via the Cloud – The data acquisition models being used on most fields today require a fairly massive infrastructure to transfer data, usually through channels such as radio towers. Developments in cloud technology offer a solution to this investment-heavy option: by handling all of the sensitive data via an encrypted cloud service, the only resource you need on site is an internet connection. PetroCloud offers this SCADA as a turn-key service that requires only that we install the equipment, and then you get access to the servers – it’s that easy. This is a saving grace for many smaller operations, which are hamstring by the large expenditures of traditional SCADA infrastructure.
- Cumulative Effect – It would be accurate to say that oilfield modernization is more effective as a complete measure than it is as a half-measure. While a singular aspect of modern or cloud based technology can make loads of difference on the field, there is no accounting for the absolute control that comes with a fully outfitted operation. When you have full leak monitoring, 24/7 remote surveillance and gate control, and a detailed cloud SCADA system, the difference is night and day. Fully automated fields enjoy the distinction of being controllable via the cloud, that is to say – from anywhere that has a net connection. The effects of these technologies is cumulative, and field operators will know the difference instantaneously.
Security on the oilfield is of the utmost importance, for reasons of both shrinkage and liability. New technologies offer a host of ways to combat these issues by placing more control in the hands of the operators, who can use their discretion to identify issues which would have before been unforeseen.