Jon Hill, Video Product Specialist for security manufacturer Bewator, a Siemens business, discusses the issue of security for British firms operating in hostile environments abroad, and looks at what companies in these situations can do to improve security. 

In an age of war, terrorism and unequal distribution of wealth, British firms operating in sectors, such as the petrochemical, aerospace and offshore industries need to ensure they secure their businesses and provide a safe working environment for their employees, both at home and abroad.

The risks faced by British companies and workers abroad include the current problems experienced in the oil industry in Iraq.  The industry has suffered from a rapid fall in oil production as a result of continued attacks on pipelines, energy infrastructures and oilfield personnel in the country, all frequent occurrences since the Iraqi war.  Attacks range from oil wells and fields being set alight by mortars and bombs to pipelines being frequently attacked, in addition to other incidences of sabotage and attacks on infrastructures. 

Therefore, for companies and workers employed abroad, oilfield security has understandably and increasingly become an area of concern.

The ever-increasing threat of oil company employees being kidnapped or coming under attack is also adding to the overall concern.  In recent months, four oil workers - one of whom was British - disappeared from the Niger Delta and taken hostage in Nigeria.  The kidnappers threatened to kill their captives and kidnap more workers if the company and government did not bow to their demands.  One incident on an oil pipeline killed 11 people following a fire, which took three days to extinguish. Forty-three workers were also taken hostage on an oilrig off western Nigeria by local youths who were demanding contract jobs.

In these times of unrest there is, therefore, an urgent need for British firms operating in hostile environments such as these to address security.  Breeches in security can have disastrous effects on the operational profits of a company, not to mention the human cost that these attacks may involve.  One option available to these companies would be to improve the current security systems used to protect their facilities and employees.

However, firms operating in sectors, such as the petrochemical, industrial, aerospace or offshore industries also need to take into account the physical environments in which they work before choosing a security system.  These often require a specialised security system, which can operate effectively in difficult conditions.

The Iraqi and Nigerian environments, for example, where many British firms choose to conduct business, can be extremely cold, or hot and dusty.  Therefore, any security system installed to protect property in these settings must be able to operate effectively in often unpredictable and extreme conditions.

In addition, these industries all pose a potential risk of explosions because volatile gases, vapours, mists or dusts are often created as a by-product of the activity.

Unfortunately, standard CCTV equipment may not always suffice and therefore, explosion proof CCTV solutions have been developed for these industries to enable them to monitor critical plant process activity, potential health and safety risks and to help prevent crime, intrusion and terrorism.

As a world leader in the manufacture of ATEX approved housings and pan and tilt heads and with more than 25 years experience in this market, Bewator has developed Phoenix explosion proof solutions to meet the needs of this market.  The Phoenix range is recognised and chosen internationally by customers who require the best-engineered solution for security and process monitoring in hazardous areas.

The Phoenix range offers explosion-proof camera housings (complete with sun shields and heaters for extreme conditions), and pan and tilt heads for camera positioning.  Approved to ATEX IIB or IIC, the Phoenix range eliminates the risk of volatile gas, vapours or dusts being ignited by containing any heat, spark or flames generated by the CCTV cameras and electronic equipment inside the camera housings.  A factory pre-build option of camera and lenses are available for convenience and optimum performance.

Another option for companies looking to improve their security is to consider integrated solutions, such as the Bewator 2010 system, which tackles the security issue of intruders.

Bewator 2010 is a unique security system, which fully integrates intruder alarm with access control, video management, and fire warning systems.

Its remote monitoring functionality means that multiple sites (offshore platforms, oil rigs, buildings, or access points) can be monitored from one central location and from a safe distance.  This is particularly useful to facilities, which, if under threat, would be completely cut off from the outside world.  Remote monitoring offers a constant window onto these premises and can help guarantee alarms are acted upon quickly.

Companies can reduce the impact security problems have on them and their staff by turning their attention to their security systems.  By improving or upgrading their security systems with security solutions, such as Bewator 2010 and the Phoenix range, they can empower themselves to protect their businesses and their employees more effectively, thereby reducing risks of high human and operational costs.

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