Oil and gas refinery

An oil refinery or petroleum refinery is an industrial process plant where crude oil is processed and refined by complex chemical engineering processes, into more useful products such as petroleum naphtha, gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt base, heating oil, kerosene, and liquefied petroleum gas.

Oil refineries are typically large, sprawling industrial complexes with extensive piping running throughout, carrying streams of fluids between large chemical processing units.

In many ways, oil refineries use much of the technology of, and can be thought of, as types of chemical plants. The crude oil feedstock has typically been processed by an oil production plant. There is usually an oil depot (tank farm) at or near an oil refinery for storage of bulk liquid products.

These chemical plants are managed by a complex network such as a Industrial Control Network (ICN) in which it is possible to distinguish following components:

  • Industrial Control System (ICS) devices, such as Control components; PLC, DCS, SCADA, RTU, HMI, etc.

  • Network Components, Fieldbus network, Control network, routers, switch, firewall, etc.

In recent years, advances in ICT have enabled the construction of systems for monitoring and control of industrial processes always larger and more complex, that allow remote and centralized administration of facilities distributed in the territory by using wireless and internet connections.

To achieve this, was broken the isolation that has historically characterized the process networks doing that these were connected to corporate networks, resulting that typical of these problems, virus, trojans, malicious code, denial of services attacks, OS vulnerabilities and applications exposure, etc. become a problem of industrial systems in a significant increase in risk of cyber attacks, always more sophisticated and targeted, to impaired production processes.

Common Refinery Operations

Refineries are composed of many different operating units that are used to separate fractions, improve the quality of the fractions and increase the production of higher-valued products like gasoline, jet fuel, diesel oil and home heating oil.

The basic refining operations are: Crude Oil Distillation, Vacuum Distillation, Catalytic Reforming, Catalytic Cracking, Alkylation and Isomerization, Hydrotreating, Product Blending

Refinery Security and Safety issues

A set of complex processes such as those found within the refinery, bring many problems relating to safety: water contamination, thermal pollution particulate emissions, sulfur and nitrogen oxides ammonia, acid mist and fluorine compounds gas emissions, occasional release of potentially hazardous materials such as solvents and acid or alkaline materials, soil, surface water and/or groundwater contamination, noise pollution accidents that impact the environment, such as large oil spill, leaks, fires and explosions on plants eventual deaths.

Cyber Attacks impacting Safety

In the Oil and Gas Use Case we want to study how the cyber attacks in a critical plant can have an impact on safety. In particular two different kind of cyber attack will be considered: Intentional cyber attack and unintentional cyber attack.

The first scenario is aimed to cover most of cyber-threats, vulnerabilities perpetrated by deliberate actions to alter, disrupt, deceive, degrade and destroy systems or networks or the information and/or programs resident in refinery networks.

The second one, the unintentional is a collateral consequence from virus or worm infection that have been created for attacking the windows operating system that is often the OS of the new generation of SCADA.

An important further step is to understand the impact of this process on safety and security.