Fail-proof FLIR perimeter security for LUKOIL Neftochim Burgas

Fail-proof FLIR perimeter security for LUKOIL Neftochim Burgas
LUKOIL Neftochim Burgas, in Bulgaria, is the largest oil refinery in Southeastern Europe, processing 9.5 million ton of crude oil per year. The Lukoil oil production sites are vital to the Bulgarian economy but they also present significant risks. To make sure the critical infrastructure is protected against unwanted intruders, the company called upon FLIR Systems for a fail-proof perimeter security solution centered around thermal imaging cameras.
“Lukoil Neftochim Burgas is a strategic site for Bulgaria. That’s why the security requirements are so demanding. We do everything we can to achieve these requirements,” says Petar Bakalov, Executive Director at Lukom-A, Lukoil Neftochim Burgas’s dedicated security agency.
Until recently, Lukoil Neftochim Burgas had used two independent systems for perimeter security: two fences with sensor cable systems about five meters separated from each other. While they delivered quality results, the installation was quite expensive as digging, cabling, and visual cameras and lighting were needed for visual verification of the detected target. Therefore, the company investigated alternative solutions.  
“We decided to try thermal cameras because they provide us with the opportunity to control the entire territory with a relatively small number of cameras. When movement is detected, we will receive an alarm in our control room,” said Lyubomir Dimov, Project Manager at Lukom-A. “The difference is that, with the sensor cable system, you need cables, lighting along the perimeter, and a video camera at each 60 meters – all these are more difficult to implement and more expensive. With thermal cameras, we always see directly what happens, regardless of lighting, in daytime or nighttime.”
Lukoil Neftochim Burgas discovered the power of thermal imaging by testing a small set-up. The company learned that thermal cameras not only outperform visual cameras at night, they’re also highly effective during the day.
“Three years ago, we decided to install cameras to guard a torch, an installation with a high level of explosion risk. We were able to perform tests with a thermal imaging camera from FLIR and discovered that even during the day, with a normal color camera, intruders can get lost in the greenery when they wear the same color of clothes. In contrast, thermal cameras can still follow them when they hide behind the bushes. This really convinced us that thermal imaging technology was the way forward,” said Dimov.
For its petrochemical plant in Burgas, Lukoil Neftochim Burgas called on Telelink EAD, main FLIR distributor for Bulgaria and a leading system integration company in South-East Europe, and 2 Plus Bulgaria AD, its partner system integration company. Together, they proposed FLIR’s FC and F series cameras in combination with advanced video analytics software to achieve a higher level of perimeter protection.
“The sensor cable system that Lukoil Neftochim Burgas is using has its merits, but it requires extensive maintenance and the system’s false alarm rate is relatively high. Also, a visual video surveillance camera system has its drawbacks. If you consider that the Lukoil Neftochim Burgas site has a very big perimeter for surveillance – more than 22 kilometers, then you actually would need more than 400 standard video surveillance cameras,” commented Ivan Ilchev, systems technician at Telelink.
“However, we knew that with one thermal imaging camera, you can easily replace six or seven visual video surveillance cameras. That’s why we advised Lukoil to use thermal cameras from FLIR Systems in combination with advanced video analytics. This is a so-called thermal fence which is indeed a very cost-effective solution. What is so amazing about thermal imaging cameras is that you can use them in almost any condition, at night, in fog, rain, or hard environments, like here, with no clean surface and with bushes and trees,” continued Ilchev.
The benefits are very clear for Lukoil Neftochim. The investment in thermal cameras is much less than that for lighting and visual cameras around the entire perimeter. “Thermal cameras have proven to be the best solution for us, because of the specifics of the secured area. The Lukoil refinery is located in an area where there is no lighting and most of our problems occur at night. That’s why thermal cameras are extremely convenient for us,” commented Bakalov.
“The most important benefit is the reliability of the FLIR cameras – you can see the object day and night. Shortly after we installed the thermal cameras, we were already able to capture two groups of intruders who were trying to enter the Lukoil Neftochim Burgas territory with the intent of stealing scrap metal. For me, FLIR is one of the best camera providers in the world and I will recommend it to our management so we can continue our cooperation with FLIR in the future,” said Bakalov.
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