Stop theft in its tracks

Stop Theft in its Tracks

Being an innovator means using pristine technology

stop theft in its tracksYou don’t produce 170 million barrels of oil in a single year without being an innovator. That’s exactly what EOG Resources Inc. is—an innovator and a game changer. The company is one of the largest independent, non-integrated, crude oil and natural gas companies in the United States.

EOG also has reserves in Canada, Trinidad, the United Kingdom and China. With its estimated net reserves at 1,811 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMBOE), EOG is a leader in the oil and gas industry. The same can be said for the company’s approach to fighting copper theft.

An Active Deterrent

EOG has lost more than $1.5 million from copper theft in the Central Texas region alone over the last year. The company’s security and operations manager, Randy Lundrum, explains that EOG project sites, many located in rural and remote areas, attract and even embolden thieves with copper and diesel stored on the site. Several EOG work sites include communication stations where copper wire is used for grounding the sophisticated radio systems.

These communication sites are essentially information and telecommunication hubs. They are used to transfer oil and gas production data and they are the link to sharing reports, designs and status updates about each production site. So, not only is theft a significant financial drain on the business, the damage caused by copper theft is also extremely disruptive to normal business operations.

Fed up with the vandalism and blows to productivity, Lundrum and the EOG IT team reached out to their security and technology partner, Sology. Sology has worked with EOG’s internal IT department to set up a Cisco video management platform and multiple standalone IP cameras, in addition to lighting systems around various EOG facilities. After dissecting the problem, Sology, EOG’s security integrator, recommended the team check out the Totus Surveillance Platform. The platform is an all-in-one, outdoor-lighting-based system that uses LED lighting, IP video surveillance, multi-day media storage and an option of secure wireless communications perfect for remote outposts in the oil and gas field like EOG’s communication stations.

“When we heard from EOG that copper theft was going on and their IT department was looking for an all-in-one solution they could manage on their own network, we introduced the concept of intelligent lighting and IP video surveillance,” said Ed Christmas, EOG’s security and support specialist from Sology. “The sophistication and, at the same time, simplicity of the platform were selling points.”

With support from Sology, a Totus lighting-based system was installed at one of EOG’s South Texas work sites. The 150-watt surveillance platform was mounted to a pole along a fence surrounding the communication station; the lighting and camera was positioned precisely to illuminate areas prone to vandalism. The platform provides 200- to 400-foot diameter range of light, far surpassing conventional lighting systems. The team created a series of geofences, or “virtual trip wires,” along the fence line of the communication unit so that an intruder would be identified as soon as he entered one of these areas. The system was then linked into the EOG network so everything could be reported in real-time.

Christmas said the platforms are an example of an emerging technology that is re-defining the core of security solutions, taking them from reactive to proactive, particularly because of the platform’s embedded intelligence.

Instead of observing and recording a crime in motion, the surveillance platform has a built in component called Active Deterrence. This event-trigged technology component is effective because it discourages crime from happening in the first place. The technology monitors the pre-defined “virtual trip wires” and if activated, immediate action is taken. The platform has a continuous 360-degree field of view and recording capabilities to capture video and still clips of on-site events.

If and when an event is detected at a location, the system flashes lights and plays an audio message such as, “You are under video surveillance.” If motion is detected and the person proceeds, the event is escalated. The system continues, “Security has been called; video clips are being emailed to security and the police.”

The backbone of the Active Deterrence component is LED lighting and IP video surveillance systems. The platform captures high-quality video with a 360-degree IP camera (360-degree fisheye three megapixel hemispheric IP camera).

Lundrum is pleased with the results of the system and likes the fact that even with a small security staff, EOG can now effectively engage people with visual and audio warnings that give would-be thieves reason to pause and move out.

Each of the lighting, camera and event-triggered options are managed through a secure Web interface by the EOG IT team. Users can select everything from lighting levels during operation to visual and custom audio-alarm notification preferences. EOG teams like the fact that they can customize pre-recorded voice messages to be played during triggered events, and that the system is directed to send security staff a text message or an email with video clips of any disturbance.

“The system is simple but still configurable, and it’s extremely energy efficient with a desirable LED component,” Christmas said. “At the end of the day, there’s no doubt this is a deterrent to copper theft and there have been no incidents since it was installed, so that’s an instant return on investment for EOG.”

This article originally appeared in the July 2013 issue of Security Today.

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