XYZ Energy, a fictitious pipeline company, embarks on a multi-state natural gas pipeline construction project.
While planning the project, security is barely discussed and receives no realistic budget.
Many of the previous pipeline construction projects treated security as an afterthought.
They reacted to developments instead of anticipating events, and this "new normal" is the epitome of poor planning and preparations that costs companies millions of dollars in lost projects and resources.
Although guards were deployed to protect equipment and direct traffic, project managers view most potential threats as unlikely and incorrectly assumed that if they occurred, they would be quickly handled by local law enforcement.
Recently, highly publicized protests have created an issue for pipeline companies, and their reaction to the protests is what buries their projects. Plain and simple.
Extended media coverage and rapid spread of wildly inaccurate information via social media dictate a more integrated security response.
While the goal of project security hasn’t changed--to protect a company’s assets, personnel, information, and brand while maintaining project timelines and financial allocations—the way in which it is delivered has changed dramatically.
Modern, effective pipeline construction security requires different strategies and actions at different points along the multi-year timeline.
(check out our other blog on preparing employees for protests)
Successful projects address security in the planning stage. Don't be fooled by anything you hear saying otherwise.
Hope for the best. Plan for the worst.
During this stage, a security professional with relevant experience and expertise assesses potential threats and vulnerabilities, and they then identify measures to mitigate them.
These assessments include:
Failure to conduct an early and complete assessment caused XYZ to miss valuable factors that eventually assured the failure of the project.
Intelligence collected throughout the lifecycle of the project identifies:
XYZ’s failure during the planning stage left them unaware of opposition's plans to disrupt pre-FERC meetings, target the CEO, disrupt corporate offices, and take action at construction sites.
Because XYZ didn’t know of the plan to disrupt corporate facilities, no countermeasures were deployed in response.
Corporations are rarely organized to support a controversial project’s security needs, so coordination of internal resources is a requirement.
Had they formed an internal stakeholders group, XYZ would have had a predetermined response strategy for company representatives dealing with protest activity and trained to that response strategy.
For instance, had XYZ decided to allow protest activity to continue near the project in a safe zone instead of attempting to stop it, they could have avoided confusion and mishandling the situation.
Corporate Communications would have had a spokesperson available with a clear response for the media message to counter any misinformation and accusations from the opposition.
Improving pipeline security to adopt a "new normal" means moving away from a reactive approach to a proactive system to equip and prepare workers, company representatives, and project partners.
Had the construction contractor received proper advanced training, he would have recognized the protestors tactic of aggravating him to generate dramatic video.
Training provided to law enforcement responders would have prepared them to effectively deal with large-scale protest activity, consistent with company construction site safety concerns.
Implementing a "New Normal" for pipeline projects includes assuring external stakeholders, particularly law enforcement agencies affected by the project, are identified and proactive relationship-building through liaison activities by the security advisor begin early in the project.
Liaison activities continue throughout the project lifecycle.
Had XYZ conducted appropriate liaison, they would have had additional opportunities to learn information they missed by not conducting an assessment: that the department responding to the protests had limited resources and no experience with large protest events.
Training could have been provided to equip the officers to respond and provisions could have been made to augment staffing levels using paid off-duty officers, sworn personnel from other jurisdictions, etc...
Effective security management needs consideration early in project planning to efficiently deploy resources and provide security.
XYZ waited to address security management until there was an immediate need.
By directing the guards to end the protest, XYZ exhibited flawed security management because the resulting videos cost the company the project and diminished the public perception of their brand.
Corporate CEO’s, board members, spokespersons, and other key executives are popular targets for groups opposing energy projects.
XYZ missed the intelligence about targeting the CEO.
Protest activity by project opponents has become almost guaranteed, and while it cannot be stopped, it can be appropriately managed using integrated security functions.
Pipeline construction security in the “new normal” requires early attention to security needs and the preparation of a comprehensive Project Security Plan combining the results of the assessment and intelligence gathering activities.
Realistic cost estimates should be generated based on the Plan to create the security budget.
Throughout the project process, opposition groups’ plans should be constantly monitored.
Security delivery will require coordination of internal resources as well as ongoing liaison with outside partners.
Security resources should be deployed in a cost-sensitive, tiered manner consistent with immediate threat and vulnerability as detailed in the Plan.
Some contingency for extra security for company executives should be addressed in advance.
Corporate employees and contractors, particularly those on the front-line, should be trained to handle confrontation and clearly understand the company’s expectations.
It is unlikely that aggressive protest action will subside anytime soon.
And without an integrated security plan, appropriately delivered throughout the project life cycle, companies, their projects, personnel, resources, and brand are in jeopardy.
Seeking more expertise on security forces or project planning? Contact The ATHOS Group and avoid disaster!