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Energy Infrastructure

Energy Infrastructure

The economic prosperity of a nation depends on secure and continuous availability of energy. In the absence of a robust energy infrastructure, production would not be feasible. Historically, the increase in a nation’s wealth is due to industrialization, while manufacturing is energy dependent. In other words, industrial growth increases the demand for energy and thereby requires proper energy infrastructure.

A state-of-the-art energy infrastructure is critical for the global community to integrate the energy market and accomplish the energy/climate objectives. According to industry experts, investments across the globe into energy infrastructure are projected at USD 36 trillion over the next few decades. This would give an opportunity for the development of new technologies while initiating measures to tackle issues related to climate change.

Economic development has contributed significantly to enhancement in Oil & Gas transportation and storage infrastructure encompassing low/high production scenarios.

Oil & Gas transportation/storage infrastructure can be classified into:

Pipeline Infrastructure: It consists of long distance interstate transmissions systems and local gathering systems. The decision on capital investments must be based on the set of assets associated with the production well - collection pipelines, related pumping and compression infrastructure and other related assets required to facilitate bulk separation from the as-produced hydrocarbons.

Rail Infrastructure: It includes capital investments in loading/unloading facilities, supplementary railroad tank cars for transporting more liquid production, railroad tracks to expand new routes.

Marine Infrastructure: It includes capital investments in new vessels - tankers, oceangoing barges, and inland transport barges to transport additional production, and specialized loading/unloading facilities.

Processing & Storage infrastructure: It is also known as the “Downstream” section of the petroleum sector including the physical storage of hydrocarbons. It also includes asset categories which have to process, separate and liquefy raw hydrocarbons into intermediates/finished products of high value. The wide range of facilities includes natural gas processing plants, natural gas liquefaction facilities, NGL fractionator, and crude oil refinery investments.

Safeguarding Energy Infrastructure

Natural disasters, terrorist attacks and criminal activities can all dismantle the energy infrastructure. Safeguarding power generation/transmission/distribution systems, Oil & Gas production/distribution systems, and LNG facilities is critical for the global economic well-being.

The increasing interface between power systems make them vulnerable to attacks. The current control systems are dependent on modern IT (productivity and cost advantages) making them prone to cyber attacks. The introduction of smart grids has made them secure. In a rapidly changing geo-political environment, security risks to Oil & Gas sector - Onshore/Offshore must be addressed continuously. The latest technologies - vibration/infrared detectors, CCTV must be used. The establishment of a security operations centre to protect data is mandatory.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) units are gaining in prominence due to the vital role in a nation’s energy infrastructure and the chances of a terrorist attack. The security threats could be on tanker ships, marine terminals and storage units, Again, computer control systems face the threat of cyber-attack. Therefore, an integrated solution to protect energy infrastructure must be developed to enhance the operational capabilities of the facilities.

- Jess Potts
Published on:
May 19, 2015
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