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VIGILANCE: What are the most significant security challenges facing the oil and gas industry today?

Charles Burbridge, International Account Director, G4S: "Natural resources are no longer viewed as simply an economic asset but a political issue as well. Few developing countries, which still have extractable resources, have the same capability to extract it themselves as international oil companies although competition is increasing between them and national oil companies.

 

IOCs will continue to be seen to remove the intrinsic wealth of nations without tangible benefit to the local populace. This is exacerbated by local assumptions about the levels of corruption in their own countries.

Corporate and social responsibility for the population affected by their actions will go some way to addressing resentment and reduce the risk of criminality and direct action. Security will be most fragile in countries with a history of political instability where the economic disparity will be stark and emphasised by the infrastructure constructed by the arrival of oil and gas companies.

Higher investment in more insecure geographies increases the risk of return and demands a more thorough approach to all aspects of the investment."

VIGILANCE: What are the key priorities for the security industry in the oil and gas sector over the next few years?

Charles Burbridge: "The current state of the world economy means that international oil companies are increasingly challenged by cost control.

We are seeing increasing scrutiny being applied to the cost of security and increasing interest in reducing supplier risk by focusing on fewer suppliers. This shift improves IOC’s ability to capture the true cost of security and drive savings and compete more favourably with NOCs who benefit from deals struck on a state to state basis and bundled with associated benefits such as development aid.

Furthermore, by adopting new technologies (eg hand held devices to improve tracking of personnel, fibre optic technology for perimeter and pipeline protection, improved camera technology in CCTV) security companies will provide a more integrated service with greater detection of possible threats and the ability to prevent incidents.

Security companies must also show leadership in health, safety and environment issues and have the highest values in human rights and business ethics."

VIGILANCE: How can security companies do more to support the broader business objectives of their clients and customers?

Charles Burbridge: "Security companies can support business objectives of clients and customers by providing a more integrated service by fully understanding the greater risks that the customer faces, assisting the customer in the recognition of these threats and developing, with the customer, optimum solutions in a risk management framework.

Real time intelligence available to the management team that is targeted to their requirements is critical and a co-ordinated and well-practiced response plan with a reliable service provider is a critical element of providing a security service aligned with customer objectives.

Security companies can also focus more on creating freedom of action rather than immunity from threats. Close partnerships with security companies which are able to understand the security requirements of the next business objective are key to ensuring that the next step is cost effective and timely.

Long term and transparent relationships will nurture human capital in the security industry which understands the risk appetite of the client.

Technical developments in the security industry will be driven by an understanding of the needs of the client to protect assets, infrastructure and people. Just as there is an oil exploration expert, progressive companies must now also ensure the presence of an oil security expert in the outsourced sector."

VIGILANCE: Where do you see the major growth in the oil and gas industry and what challenges will this bring?

Charles Burbridge: "Major growth in the oil and gas industry is likely to come from unconventional resources (shale gas and oil, oil sands) as well as oil and gas finds in technically and challenging areas in the arctic and deep reservoirs.

Developments are also likely via hydrocarbon discoveries in geographically remote and politically unstable parts of the globe.

Oil exploration is as likely to fuel political instability as much as economic development as competing political and cultural group recognise the economic benefits of controlling access to the resource.

Hard security alone may also exacerbate the challenge and security will need to become more three dimensional, dealing with the source of the threat as much as the symptom. In the future, security companies may need to be more adept politically to create the freedom of action for new market entrants, nurturing diplomatic relationships as much as deterring criminality."