Maintaining Pipeline Security in Hostile Regions

istanbul-1441450_2Terrorism continues to affect the Middle Eastern Oil & Gas industry and therefore it has never been more important for operators to deploy tried-and-tested technologies to protect their assets

The Oil & Gas industry has faced an increasingly dangerous threat from terrorism over the past decade and it is continuing to intensify, predominantly in the Middle East. Terrorism has once again become a major discussion topic amongst industry experts, as we saw at the UKTI Regional Oil and Gas Summit in Turkey earlier this month. In light of the growing concern, there is a renewed focus on the protection of new and existing pipelines.

Hostile regions present an extremely challenging environment for pipeline security due to the increased risks for security personnel and the potential damage that can be caused if a threat is missed. Recent events in Turkey highlight the challenge, with the attack in February by the PKK terrorist group on the Kirkuk-Yumurtalik oil pipeline. This attack alone cost the Kurdish Regional Government $100 million.

Despite the threat from terrorist organisations, Turkey is still considered to be one of the most lucrative regions in the Middle East with developments such as TANAP – a project valued at $11billion – due to bring Shah Deniz gas to Europe by 2019. When considering upstream projects, Turkish Petroleum has spent $11.2 billion in the last decade on domestic and international investments, including deep offshore exploration in the Black Sea.

With Turkey due to invest another $1.5 billion into exploration over the next two years, the demand for technologies to maximise ROI and minimise malicious and accidental damage to pipelines will increase. For the UK, which is a hotbed for the development of technologies for the oil and gas industry this represents a major opportunity.

Systems such as Fotech’s LivePIPE pipeline monitoring solution are major value-adds for operators that can help maintain the security and profitability of new projects. When fully-integrated with a pipeline fibre network, LivePIPE’s monitoring capabilities can cover a limitless distance, helping to inform and direct security personnel and responses regardless of terrain or remoteness. In this way LivePIPE can significantly enhance the security of pipelines, even in the most hostile regions.

While Turkey is currently the region that’s drawing the most global attention, the Regional Oil and Gas Summit also shed light on the growing profit opportunities in other Middle Eastern countries. Over the next ten years, expenditure on major developments in Kazakhstan is expected to exceed £65 billion and the UK is well-positioned to secure a significant proportion of contracts over the next eighteen months. Similarly, there are significant downstream, midstream and upstream opportunities in Azerbaijan, with an estimated ten-year value of $100bn.

While there are some clear dangers associated with the Middle East, the monitoring tools needed to address them and enhance operational security measures already exist. Operators should be looking to the UK for the expertise and technology they need to protect their assets and ultimately, maximise their profits.