The adoption of new technologies in oil and gas facilities is a dual-edged sword. On one side, there are the obvious benefits of implementing industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices to improve efficiencies and reduce operational costs.
On the other side, there are inherent risks associated with upgrading systems. Case in point: the Columbia Gas incident in metropolitan Boston last year, which produced a series of explosions in Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence, and resulted in more than 70 fires, one death, dozens of injuries, and the destruction or damage of more than 100 structures. Approximately 9,000 customers were left without power.
The New York Timesreported that a system upgrade caused gauges that monitored pressure levels to be taken offline, and that unchecked over-pressurization triggered the blasts.
While human error was probably the cause of the Columbia Gas incidents, it could just as easily have been the work of terrorists.