We all are aware of how the consumption of natural oil and gas is growing day by day. With this increasing demand, the gathering, transmission, and distribution of these products are bound to increase too. For seamless supply and distribution of such important resources, a robust and safe pipeline infrastructure with efficient operations management system built with a facility to detect and control any kind of threats is essential.
Importance of security for pipeline operations:
The pipeline infrastructure faces certain challenges that hamper the security and smooth functioning of the pipelines. Considering the critical nature of pipelines, managing the integrity of the system is one of the key goals for any pipeline operator. Theft and leakage are the major concerns for pipeline operators that can hinder the daily working of the pipelines and cause alarming damage. The damage will not be limited to financial losses but also harm the environment adding up to the growing global warming problem and, in certain cases like leakage of gases and combustion, posing a great risk to life and property.
When it comes to securing the pipeline infrastructure, conventional and traditional security solutions are not feasible or practical to monitor these kinds of pipelines that run over hundreds of kilometres. In the case of an actual threat, tracing the exact location and understanding the type of threat can be very time-consuming. Also, most of the traditional methods require an additional resource setup like a power supply which can further add up to the costs and, in many cases, is not even possible to set up considering the varying terrains through which the pipelines pass through.
Keeping in mind all these factors, a robust pipeline monitoring and security system is crucial for minimising damage to people or the environment, costs of renovation/ repair and avoiding revenue loss.
Threats and challenges for pipelines
There are different kinds of threats and challenges that can affect the seamless working of pipelines. The most crucial kind of threats to pipeline safety and integrity are manual threats (Eg: digging, tapping, etc), Mechanical threats (Eg: strain, dents, gouges, etc), and Drilling.
Pilferage is a pressing issue for pipeline operators. Despite the pertaining penal provisions, the incidents of pilferage are not completely under control. People involved in doing this aren’t fully aware of the kind of damage that can be caused due to product leakage. Companies suffer huge losses because of pilferage. And then there are concerns about imbalanced supply and distribution, environmental impact, etc.
Pipeline Intrusion Detection System (PIDS)
Pipeline Intrusion Detection System (PIDS) is a modern, real-time system that leverages optical fibre cable to analyse, detect, locate and identify any kind of intrusion attempts along the entire length of a pipeline. The system works on the principle of Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS), wherein acoustic signals of intrusion activities are collected by the optical probe pulses sent to the optical fibre cable. An interrogator present in the system sends optical pulses through a highly coherent laser and captures back-scattered light. There is a unique ‘acoustic signature’ for every type of intrusion which is analysed and used to identify the intrusions. Specialized algorithms and a combination of powerful computational techniques assist with processing the raw signals to showcase the precise identity of the type of activity happening across the pipeline.
In the case of intrusion detection, the system generates an alarm in real time and displays the exact location of the activity along with precise GPS coordinates on a map. The alarm also shows the type of intrusion activity. Additional layers of algorithms can also be added to understand the severity of the threats through different categories of alarms. All these alerts and alarms are visible on a Graphical User Interface. There is also a capability to share these alerts with the security personnel through SMS or email to initiate necessary response action towards the threat.
Advantages of PIDS
- Since the system is able to understand the dynamics of complex systems and is integrated with existing communication systems, it saves a lot of time and effort that would otherwise be required to build or implement threat detection and prevention mechanism
- The system allows you remotely monitor the activity across the length of the pipeline using a portable device or a computer
- Real-time visuals and automatic notifications ensure that any threat will not go undetected and hence helps you secure your infrastructure
- Precise location capability in case of a threat saves time and allows you to take the necessary action quickly
- The system is very easy to use
- The system has the provision to add new information for future detection in case there are any new types of threats
- Deploying solutions like PIDS is a great way to secure your pipeline operations, quickly identify threats and tackle them in case of an intrusion event. The system is very robust and not only saves your time but also the effort and monies that you might have to spend on traditional security solutions. Since it needs the least human intervention, your teams are free to focus on the key work aspects and boost the efficiency, and productivity of the business.