Fiber on Patrol
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Oct 26, 2011
You can imagine how difficult it would be to secure an oil and gas pipeline than runs 50 or 60 miles. Multiply that distance by 20, and the security costs alone would be enormous -- let alone adding to the environmental impact or related safety concerns.
It is the kind of project that fits perfectly under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) legislation, and is a worry among pipeline owners. The protection of the pipeline is a triple threat in terms of terrorism, environment and safety.
On Oct. 20, the Senate unanimously passed legislation to strengthen safety and environmental protection in the oil and gas pipeline transport industry. A similar measure now awaits House members in a committee.
The timing of the legislation couldn’t be more appropriate as the State Department recently finalized an environmental review of the $13 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline, finding only limited hazards from the controversial Canada to U.S. project.
“It has never been more important to ensure the safety and reliability of production and distribution assets for the oil and gas industry,” said David Smith, president and CEO of Optellios. “In today’s fragile economy, threats to pipeline infrastructure can have a significant impact on both industries and communities, whether they are intentional disruptions due to terrorism or theft, or inadvertent damage caused by simple excavation equipment or pipeline leaks.
“Just as important, the legislation now moving through Congress addresses a key step in protecting the critical pathways that run through local communities, ecosystems and habitats.”
Smith has weighed in on the cross border pipeline that would carry Canadian oil to the Gulf Coast refineries in Texas, through six states and a wide variety of communities and ecosystems because Optellios provides a pipeline monitoring product that can be deployed over long distances and will monitor any intrusions, disruptions and the chance of oil spills or leaks.
The product, FiberPatrol, is a one-half inch cable that is placed on the pipeline as a listening device and geophonic monitor. It is temperature sensitive to the material inside the pipeline, as well as if the product heats up or cools off during flow action.
Like many pipeline security products on the market, FiberPatrol works hand-in-hand with CFATS regulations in that it complies with safety standards established by the regulation, and it gives more bite to government control of established rules, such as monitoring, and providing established data from any given pipeline.
While I wouldn’t or couldn’t endorse any given security product, it just feels right that a product that has little to no impact on the environment, and provides a security and safety network, should be considered with a positive reputation. I’d love to see the federal government green light the Canadian pipeline, plus have it be given the White House seal of approval for the sake of lower energy costs, addition of employment and less dependence on foreign oil.
It seems to me CFATS regulations have been met and compliance issues are well within justifiable means. It’s time to move forward.
Ralph C. Jensen is the Publisher of Security Today magazine.