Focus: Energy targets and terror
Terror's Next Target
Terrorist organizations have always been interested in targeting oil and gas facilities. Striking pipelines, tankers, refineries and oil fields accomplishes two desired goals: undermining the internal stability of the regimes they are fighting, and economically weakening foreign powers with vested interests in their region. In the past decade alone, there have been scores of attacks against oil targets primarily in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. These attacks have never received much attention and have been treated as part of the ‘industry’s risk.’
However, after the attacks on World Trade Center and the Pentagon, symbols of U.S.' economic and military dominance, terrorist organizations of global reach like al Qaeda have identified the world’s energy system as a major vulnerability and a certain way to deliver a blow to America's oil dependent economy as well as global economy at large. With attacks against transportation networks, military bases and government installations becoming more difficult to execute due to heightened security, terrorists looking for a big bang might find oil, to quote al Qaeda, the "umbilical cord and lifeline of the crusader community," the object of the next major assault on the west, an assault that could wreak havoc with America’s economy and way of life.
Study: LNG tankers make spectacular targets for terrorists
To keep prices in check and limit the global influence of the oil cartel, many have advocated increasing imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), natural gas cooled at extremely low temperature and high pressure until it contracts into a liquid which then can be transported worldwide by tankers. However, LNG is highly volatile and in the era of terrorism may offer more opportunities for terrorist strikes on vulnerable energy infrastructure targets located near residential neighborhoods. One such disaster scenario was developed by James Fay, a professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a former chairman of the Massachusetts Port Authority and a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Does Saudi Arabia border on Iraq?
Hearing administration officials commenting on terror attacks against coalition forces in Iraq carried out by "foreign fighters infiltrating from neighboring countries" one might think that Iraq borders only two countries: Syria and Iran. Without belittling the destructive role of Iranian and Syrian fighters, one group of nationals stands out in its absence. The same two-word country omitted in the report of the joint inquiry into intelligence activities before and after September 11, is again missing from the coverage of the guerrilla war currently waged against the U.S. in Iraq.
India's energy security challenge
Like China, India is a growing giant facing the critical challenge of meeting a rapidly increasing demand for energy. With over a billion people, a fifth of the world population, India ranks sixth in the world in terms of energy demand. Its economy is projected to grow 7%-8% over the next two decades, and in its wake will be a substantial increase in demand for oil to fuel land, sea, and air transportation. Concerned about its growing reliance on oil from the Persian Gulf - 65% of its energy is imported from the region - India is following in the footsteps of other major oil importing economies, and seeking oil outside the Gulf, a policy with problematic implications.
On the technology front
Fuel Cell Buses to UK and Down Under
Ballard Power Systems’ delivered three Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses, powered with Ballard® fuel cell engines, to the public transport authorities in London, as part of a pan European fuel cell bus effort, and will also provide three of its latest generation heavy-duty fuel cell engines to Australia's EvoBus for integration into Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses for the public transport system in Perth, Western Australia.
Volkswagen AG and Archer Daniels Midland Announce Biodiesel Research Agreement
Volkswagen AG and Archer Daniels Midland Company, a joint research agreement aimed at further developing and utilizing biodiesel fuels for the automotive industry. This marks the first time that one of the world's leading automakers has joined forces with a major global agricultural company to cooperate on the development of next-generation clean renewable fuels.
Biodiesel is refined from any animal fat or vegetable oil. According to the National Biodiesel Board, every gallon of biodiesel used has the potential to extend our petroleum reserves by four gallons.
World's first fuel cell plant to operate on coalmine methane gas
FuelCell Energy Inc. announced the dedication of the world's first fuel cell power plant, its 200-kW Direct FuelCell® (DFC®) power plant, to operate on coalmine methane gas. The purpose of the project, co-funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory, is to demonstrate the feasibility and advantages of methane from coalmines to generate electricity cleanly and efficiently.
PolyFuel delivers breakthrough fuel cell membrane For portable fuel cell systems
PolyFuel, a Silicon Valley based provider of fuel cell membrane technology, announced it has released a breakthrough membrane specifically designed for Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) applications.