Pipeline sabotage is terrorist’s weapon of choice
no longer need to come to the U.S. in
order to wreak havoc in our energy system.
They can achieve the same degree of damage by
going after energy targets in their home base
where they enjoy support on the ground.
In mid-December 2004, Arab satellite channels
aired an audiotape message by Osama bin
Laden in which he called on his cohorts to take
their holy war to the oil industry and to disrupt
supplies to the U.S from the Persian Gulf. Two days later a follow-up statement by the
Saudi branch of al Qaeda was published, calling
on “all mujahideen ... in the Arabian Peninsula”
to target “the oil resources that do not serve the
nation of Islam.”
IAGS' Gal Luft explains why pipeline sabotage has become a terrorist
weapon of choice and what can be done to reduce risk.
Russia's oil windfall
Russia's increasing reliance on oil revenues raises questions essential for its future evolution, as well as its international role. On the one hand, it can capitalize on its resources and boost its economic development, eventually joining the industrialized world as a competitive partner. On the other extreme, natural resources may turn out to be a curse, rather than blessing, hindering Russia’s economic diversification, expanding the level of corruption, and raising the risks for repeated economic (and political) crises.
IAGS Associate Fellow Adnan Vatansever discusses the Russian government’s decision to set up a stabilization fund in conjunction with several broader trends pertaining Russia’s oil sector and oil revenue management, explains how the fund works and discusses the major challenges and risks ahead of Russia.
The rise of Islam in Azerbaijan
The former Soviet republic, Azerbaijan, where most people consider themselves secular Shia, boasts of its ability to separate religion and politics. The Turkish model of secularism, as opposed to Iranian theocracy, has appealed to Azerbaijani politicians since the country re-gained its independence in 1991. Yet recent studies show that Islamic fundamentalism might be on the rise.
While the rise of Islam might hinder the overall pro-Western development and integration of Azerbaijan, large-scale oil and gas projects may be in immediate danger. The construction of the $3 billion worth Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline is about to be completed and the gas pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum has recently commenced. IAGS Associate Fellow Fariz Ismailzade discusses.
Watch: Energy Security editor Anne Korin discusses sabotage of Iraqi oil infrastructure and
maritime attacks and oil and gas targets
Watch: IAGS' executive director Gal Luft comments on Iraqi oil
On the Technology Front
Hydrogen or electricity? A nuclear fork in the road
David B. Barber, active in nuclear systems research, development and demonstration for fifteen years, considers whether the US nuclear industry should turn its sights to hydrogen and concludes that economics, technical practicality and the urgency of strengthened national security through reduced dependence on oil all overwhelmingly favor electricity rather than hydrogen as the energy carrier that will be carrying stationary-source energy to the transportation sector in the 21st Century. Only 2% of U.S. electricity is generated from oil.
Barber notes that hydrogen has a critical inefficiency problem that is rooted in thermodynamics, that is essentially unsolvable and that renders hydrogen impractical as either an energy carrier or an energy storage tool and that a key driver for "the hydrogen economy" is an attempt to integrate renewable energy’s desperately needed load leveler into general commerce.
Yogi and Gasoline
Nearly twenty five years ago, in the wake of the 1973 Arab oil embargo, Peter Vanderzee was a project manager for a $1 billion project that was part of program of national importance - The U.S. Synthetic Fuels Program. Announced as a $60 Billion dollar program to free the U.S. from dependence upon Middle East crude oil, hundreds of engineers, scientists, financial wizards and executives spent years trying to find the most effective means to make crude oil from shale deposits, synthesis gas (syngas) from coal, and liquid fuels (in his case - methanol) from syngas.
In the interim he has concluded that converting coal to the alcohol fuel methanol using proven technology in “zero discharge” plants is an effective way to displace petroleum in the transportation sector, which accounts for two thirds of U.S. oil consumption, and bring jobs to coal producing states. He calls for an effort to convince both China and India, whose oil consumption is rapidly increasing, that their best long-term fuels strategy is to convert their indigenous coal supplies into methanol.