Facility management addressed by building technologies

Security and safety enhanced by integration and standardization.

By Kevin Parker July 18, 2018

Security and safety in oil & gas industry facilities is challenged by the many kinds of specialized, on-site work performed by service companies, equipment suppliers, and other third parties.

The challenge is sure to become even more complex. The trend is toward outsourcing of long-term management, operations, and maintenance of oil & gas production facilities, except for reservoir management and downhole operations. Owner-operators must allow the deployment of these diverse resources while retaining effective control of the assets being managed.

Besides the baseline safety and security concerns involved, needs for increased efficiency and productivity in these environments is behind the growing focus on facilities management as a core oil & gas industry competency.

Not surprisingly, it’s believed that available information and automation technologies can better support comprehensive management of industrial facilities. For one, automation leader Siemens is bundling diverse building technologies into solutions that address concerns in oil & gas and other industries for safe, secure, and productive facilities management.

Oil & gas specific

Oil & gas facilities include control centers, production sites, piping and gathering networks, transportation and distribution facilities, and residence camps. Some of the capabilities needed in these environments and addressed by building technologies include fire detection and suppression, site and corporate security, automation and controls, data services, distributed energy management, and building performance.

Oil & Gas Engineering magazine recently spoke with managers from the Siemens Building Technology Division’s Oil and Gas Center of Excellence about industry concerns specific to security and safety. They say these complex, diverse environments are best addressed by an integrated, modular infrastructure that delivers benefits greater than the sum of its parts.

"It has to be a joint effort between IT security, which ensures data integrity and hardens the facility from security breaches, and the facilities operation, which controls ingress and egress at a site," Robert Dixon, head of the oil and gas center or excellence, said. "Because addressing safety and security concerns spans across functions there is always the possibility of gaps. Gaps introduce risk. To reduce risk, a framework is needed that integrates what would otherwise be information silos."

An integrated approach, by eliminating potential information gaps, also allows joint operations efforts. "A safety incident can lead to security concerns. For example, a safety incident may lead to the need for a lockdown or to move personnel to safe harbor," said Alex Yaskevich, the center’s portfolio manager.

Moreover, it’s important to note that integration achieves more than just connectivity, Yaskevich added. "It’s as much about providing context, to create an environment for informed decisions."

Standardizations of scale

Historically, in heavy industry, "whether it’s oil & gas, pulp & paper, or mining, executives and managers strive to do as much as possible at the local level," said Bob Watson, national business development manager. "Today, in an era of global corporations that can be a challenge."

The challenge is apparent, for example, if you consider all the different layers of local and corporate security that need to be addressed in today’s world, including for network, endpoint, application, and cloud security.

Building technologies, besides instantiating integration benefits, Watson said they can "be a drive toward standardization. Concerns with safety and security need to be addressed at a corporate level, rather than with local engineering and procurement. Safety and security need to be part and parcel of how corporations train and support personnel. In this respect, it needs to be more like a quality program, so that apples are compared to apples."

Standardization means more than just choosing a technology. It can be about personnel doing the same tasks every day, driven by safety concerns. "It isn’t just a corporate whim that leads a global oil company to want to have all its fire systems all over the world to be the same," Yaskevich said. "The fact is these global sites are found in diverse, remote corners of the world where normally there are no supplier services. It makes perfect sense that the operating company therefore wants a single system that its own personnel could be trained on."

Needs and requirements

For the most part, within the oil & gas industry, the level of standardization needed is yet to be achieved, these managers said. It’s true that corporate control centers tend to be much the same. Below that level, however, environments are more fragmented. In developing a site, a company may contract with an engineering, procurement, and construction company (EPC) to provide security and safety. That EPC in turn most often subcontracts some of those functions, such as fire detection, to yet another party. Procurement may proceed on a piecemeal basis, with many different subsystems involved.

Instead, to comprehensively achieve standardization, "what’s needed is an open, flexible platform that can integrate smaller and bigger applications as the need for them arises over a period of years," Dixon said. "One level of standardization can be achieved using Siemens’ templates designed for drilling rigs, production sites, pipelines, and other type facilities."

Yet even though functional needs and requirements can be similar, what an organization needs at any given moment can be very different.

The value therefore comes not from a one-size-fits-all solution, but from integration and standardization at a level where everyone gets to look at "the same sheet of music" and receives the information needed. At the same time, operational control of some subsystems continues to reside at the most appropriate functional level.

Tight integration is required, Dixon said, when information is sourced from multiple systems. "Examples might include perimeter and card access systems that restrict personnel to areas they’re working in that day," he said, "or restricting personnel from boarding a helicopter going out to an offshore platform until they’ve been trained for such. On the other hand, fire systems are highly regulated and there are good reasons for these systems to remain functionally separate."

Dixon added that over time security functions also will be regulated increasingly.

"It’s not so much that any particular function is at the core of the system," Watson said. "’Building technologies’ is a family of product solutions brought together at the systems level. It’s an open platform to integrate with multiple third parties, based on user needs."

The process controlled

Finally, building technologies will not subsume industrial process control, nor are large organizations comfortable having security or fire protection on the same supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) where process control is done. Yet, the integration of building technologies into process control is important. Take just two simple examples appropriate to a power equipment center:

  • As a compressor nears breakdown the building technology center alerts the process control center that the power equipment center’s air conditioning system is overheated and about to shut down.
  • The process control system informs the building technology center that a planned shutdown is about to occur.

In 2016, according to the Deloitte Insights article, "Protecting the connected barrels," energy was the industry second most prone to cyberattacks, with nearly three-quarters of U.S. oil & gas companies experiencing at least one cyber incident. Yet only a handful of energy companies cite cyber breaches as a major risk.

Apart from the upstream industry’s critical infrastructure status, a complex ecosystem of computation, networking and physical operational processes spread around the world makes the industry highly vulnerable to cyberattacks, according to Deloitte. The contrasting priorities of the operations and information technologies deployed by the industry only heighten its vulnerability.

The solutions they speak to

The Siemens Surveillance system comprises a comprehensive range of security solutions and systems, from intelligent video surveillance, access control, and identity management to intrusion detection and perimeter protections, up to industrial command and control center technology—which can be configured to meet specific requirements depending on the needs of the user and site.

Some important Siveillance features include advanced alarm correlation and workflows, interactive visualization with multiview, and geo-referenced system intelligence.

Alarm correlation includes an overview of the current situation at a glance, with the leading message linked to appropriate technical information and standard operating procedures. Multiview offers varied visual representations of graphics, videos, and websites. Affected structures are highlighted for situational awareness, and dynamic zooming permits more detailed analysis of the situation. The georeferenced data model allows detectors and elements of a discipline to be assigned automatically to definable areas. Subsequent events are correlated automatically based on georeferencing.

The Siemens Desigo building management system is for efficient control, regulation, and optimization of a single system or several systems in a building. Desigo CC is the central platform that can be used to control individual or multiple building systems holistically, for safety and security optimization as well as for increased building performance and an optimal working environment.

Kevin Parker, senior contributing editor, Oil & Gas Engineering, CFE Media, kparker@cfemedia.com.

Original content can be found at Oil and Gas Engineering.

Author Bio: Senior contributing editor, CFE Media