When a pipeline comes under threat from criminals intent on stealing product by hot-tapping, a rapid and precise response is required to prevent the crime before damage can be done that results in spillage and costly clean-up.
Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS), uses fibre optic cables which are already in place alongside most pipelines for communications, effectively converting the fibre in to thousands of sensors which detect vibrations from people walking or vehicles moving where they shouldn’t, digging, tunnelling and other activities involved in the hot-tapping process. The technology has been proven through deployments on thousands of kilometres of pipelines all over the world.
DAS technology can detect a threat and raise an alarm within seconds, but it still takes time for a security team to drive to site and intervene, especially where distances are long, or terrain is challenging.
The rapid advancement of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or Drone technology introduces the new possibility of automatically launching a UAV which can fly along the pipeline to specific coordinates provided by DAS of where the threat is present. With the right strategy in place, the UAV will be able to reach any location along the pipeline in the required target response time and provide clear footage from visual and thermal cameras. It will also be possible for the UAV to make its presence known to the criminals with strong LED lights for night time operations and audio, so they know they have been detected and are deterred from continuing, thereby preventing a tap attempt that goes wrong and results in a spillage and costly clean-up.
The UAV also protects the law enforcement officers by giving them situational awareness, allowing them to assess the criminal’s weapons capabilities, who might threaten their personal safety, before going to site in person.