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Salt Lake firm to help protect pipelines

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Salt Lake-based Satel Inc. is taking its data protection efforts all the way to the oil pipelines of Russia and Kazakhstan.

The company, which specializes in information security systems, has signed a contract with the Caspian Pipeline Consortium.

Exact terms of the contract — which encompasses network design and data security consulting — were not disclosed. However, Kib Pearson, Satel president, said the dollar amount of the agreement is in the "high six figures."

The Caspian Pipeline Consortium is composed of the Russian, Kazakhstan and Oman governments, along with Russian and U.S. oil producers that include Chevron, BP and Exxon-Mobil.

The consortium recently completed the construction of a nearly 1,000-mile pipeline from the Tengiz oil field in Kazakhstan to a new marine terminal on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea near Novorosissysk in Russia.

The $2.65 billion project transports more than 28 million metric tons (600,000 barrels) of oil a year to the Black Sea, where it is loaded onto tankers en route to the West.

Satel's role is ensuring that CPC's financial and business data remain secure along a fiber optic system that begins in Tengiz and runs to Novorosissysk. The system links to five different remote office locations in Kazakhstan and Russia.

"When we make those connections between the fiber optic backbone and the remote office locations we are going through public infrastructure. At that point, it becomes a concern that someone will be able to insert their own equipment and basically capture CPC's business data," said Michael Brown, a principal consultant for Satel.

In addition, CPC is creating an application that handles orders from oil producers as well as people who want to put oil on a ship.

"In order for that to function it needs to have some of the data that sits in the data network, but because this data network is attached to devices that can shut down the pipeline, obviously that access needs to be very secure and very restrictive," Brown said.

Carl Bailey, project manager for systems and communications at CPC, said in a statement that finding a partner to protect the critical nature of CPC's data was a key to the project's success.

"Satel provides the perfect mix of high-end network experience, data security expertise and impeccable project management to bring the vendors, regulatory bodies and partners together to satisfy our objectives," Bailey said.

Satel's experience in network design and IT security includes a contract it has with SEMA to develop the network architecture, systems and help desk for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

When Satel finishes its contract for CPC in early 2003, which involved the work of four employees, the job will rank as one of its top-tier projects.

"The thing that is the most worthwhile to us is that it shows the strength of a Utah company in the international community," Pearson said. "When CPC was needing this type of expertise they came to Utah to look for it because of the skill set that we have. This is a pretty valuable contract to us not so much just for its dollar amount but more importantly for its international presence."

E-mail: danderton@desnews.com