Surveillance specialist Senstar has identified three security trends affecting the oil and gas sector in 2023; ongoing conflicts and physical threats, new technologies enhanced by artificial intelligence, and vigilance against cybersecurity threats.

    “The conflict in Ukraine, regional instabilities and the potential for geopolitical or ecological terrorism continue to pose significant threats to the physical security of oil and gas infrastructure and its personnel,” Stewart Dewar, Senstar Product Manager, told Rigzone. .

    “2022 has unfortunately demonstrated that pipelines, undefended over great distances, are at high risk of sabotage and hacking, while facilities and personnel, especially in unstable regions, remain exposed to direct attacks and coordinates,” he added.

    “A specific area of ​​focus in 2023 and beyond is the physical security of LNG infrastructure, including plants, export terminals and regasification facilities. The strategic importance of LNG infrastructure cannot be overstated – in many jurisdictions, physical security systems must be fully certified before operations can even begin, making LNG facilities high-value targets with substantial security requirements,” he said. for follow-up.

    To mitigate these risks, oil and gas companies are devoting substantial resources to improving their ability to detect physical security threats when they occur, maintain situational awareness through enhanced remote monitoring and reduce reaction times for security forces, Dewar noted.

    “For buried pipelines, this means deploying long-range fiber optic sensors that can locate and classify disturbances within feet or meters and relay that information to central monitoring centers,” he said.

    “For oil and gas facilities, a new generation of perimeter intrusion sensors, low-cost thermal cameras, and AI-powered video analytics are providing security personnel with better situational awareness, allowing them to take action. quick and effective action as situations evolve,” he added. .

    AI Technology, Cybersecurity

    Dewar also pointed out that media reports involving new AI technologies received “substantial attention” in 2022 and said that trend will continue this year.

    “For the oil and gas industry, AI-powered deep learning has the potential to revolutionize all aspects of data-driven decision-making, from geological surveys to market forecasting to spot detection. intruder,” he said.

    “At its heart, AI is about adding experiential intelligence to decisions made based on training from large datasets. For physical security applications, AI-enhanced intelligence will enable security and video surveillance systems to make better decisions about what is and isn’t a threat, avoiding the distractions associated with false positives.” , he added.

    “Given their potentially game-changing benefits, AI-based applications will continue to make inroads in the oil and gas industry, particularly as applications mature and become easier to deploy,” Dewar continued.

    While the physical security of oil and gas infrastructure is a major concern, so is cybersecurity, Dewar told Rigzone.

    “In fact, as separate systems become increasingly integrated, to improve capabilities and streamline operations, the separation between the physical and cyber domains is rapidly dissolving,” he said.

    “Malicious actors, especially at the state-sponsored level, can exploit cybersecurity weaknesses to disrupt operations, steal intellectual property, and hold organizations hostage to ransom demands,” he added.

    “At the organizational level, we can expect a continued focus on comprehensive cybersecurity audits and the implementation of best practices, while at the product level, increased attention to reducing attack vectors, fixing vulnerabilities and implementing network intrusion detection software will be a priority,” Dewar went on to state.

    Friction Grows Along Geopolitical Fault Lines in the Middle East

    When Rigzone asked global risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft what security trends it expected to see in the oil and gas market this year, a company spokesperson sent a report saying that friction was growing along all major geopolitical fault lines in the Middle East.

    “Rising tensions along multiple fault lines threaten to disrupt oil supplies to the Middle East,” Verisk Maplecroft analysts said in the report.

    “As Iran continues its nuclear program and the United States responds with new sanctions, the geopolitical landscape resembles that of the second half of 2019. Then Iran responded to mounting sanctions pressure with new sanctions. frequent covert military actions against energy infrastructure and shipping in the region,” the analysts added in the report.

    The rhetoric between Riyadh and Tehran is also hardening and the return of Benjamin Netanyahu to power in Israel threatens to escalate Israeli-Iranian tensions from bad to worse, analysts warn in the report.

    “Amid growing friction along all these fault lines, the risk is not just more frequent attacks on energy infrastructure and transportation,” the analysts said in the report.

    “The risk of a broader regional confrontation with far-reaching consequences for the global oil market is also uncomfortably high,” the analysts added.

    According to BP’s latest global energy statistics study, Saudi Arabia ranked second in global oil production in 2021 with an output of 10.95 million barrels of oil per day. The top oil producer in 2021 was the United States with 16.58 million barrels per day, BP’s statistical review showed.

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