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How the IoT Is Collapsing Different Oil and Fuel Theft Methods

The Internet of Things is helping the oil industry monitor the movement of crude oil and its products, even from remote locations.
By Sanjeev Verma

Current oil theft prevention systems for pipelines operate on the principle of pressure difference. Pressure sensors are placed at a pipeline's entrance and exit. In the event that someone drills a hole in the pipeline, the pressure at the exit port decreases and an alert is raised. The problem with this system is its inability to tell the exact position of tapping. In addition, such a system is incapable of detecting minor leaks.

IoT-powered fuel theft prevention system help oil companies to keep real-time surveillance on their pipelines. Sensors, cameras and remote terminal units automatically sense and capture images, videos and other in situ signals as soon as oil mice try to tap a pipeline. These signals are then transmitted to the authorities via a network, giving them enough time to take preventive steps.

Illegal Bunkering
The oil-carrying capacity of oil vessels can range from 500,000 to 4,000,000 barrels of oils. These vessels are designed to carry crude from one location to another. They act as a cheap and simple mode of oil transportation and their influence on the oil industry cannot be underestimated.

However, many oil tankers are being used for practices related to illegal oil bunkering. Thieves who steal crude from pipelines often sell it to oil tankers at a low price. The tankers then carry the stolen oil to refineries and sell it as a legitimate product for a good profit. Sometimes, tankers transfer the oil to a more reputable ship so that the oil can be easily imported to more profitable areas.

Even though methods like dyes and molecular marking are being used to prevent fraud and to easily identify oil, they in no way help in preventing fuel robbery. Moreover, some dyes are being replicated by criminals for simple oil smuggling.

With the use of the IoT and a GPS-based monitoring system, the positions and movements of tankers can be monitored from a far-off location. And with a highly scalable fleet-management system, such tracking can be extended to a large number of ships. A fleet manager receives an alert if a vessel changes its course or takes long breaks during its journey.

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