Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline: not yet finished and already threatened
The long-delayed 1000-mile Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline to transport 1 million barrels of oil a day from the Caspian to the Turkish port of Ceyhan is progressing toward completion as early as 2005. But even before the construction is finished, terrorist elements may already be planning attacks on this high quality target. IAGS' Gal Luft discusses the threats.
A strategic approach to pipeline security
Aside from BTC, a consortium of Western energy companies has already started the construction of the South Caucasus Gas Pipeline. Thus far the host countries of the pipelines along with the Western energy companies have taken responsibility for the protection of the critical energy infrastructure. Yet, it is clear that by sole attention to the military aspects of the pipeline protection it will be impossible to guarantee their full protection. The host countries can upgrade their pipeline protection units and patrol teams and purchase the most advanced technology in the world. Baku based analyst Fariz Ismailzade argues that to achieve longterm security the communities along which the pipelines will pass be must be involved in the protection process.
Terrorism goes to sea
Since September 11, security experts have frequently invoked a 200-year-old model to guide leaders contending with the threat of Islamist terrorism: the war on piracy. In the first years of the nineteenth century, Mediterranean pirates, with the support of the Barbary states of northern Africa, would capture merchant ships and hold their crews for ransom. In response, the United States launched the Barbary wars, the first successful effort by the young republic to protect its citizens from a ruthless, unconventional enemy by fighting a protracted struggle overseas.
Such experts, however, fail to realize that the popular perception that the international community has eliminated sea piracy is far from true. Not only has piracy never been eradicated, but the number of pirate attacks on ships has tripled in the past decade, putting piracy at its highest level in modern history.
New evidence suggests that piracy is becoming a key tactic of terrorist groups. In light of al Qaeda's professed aim of targeting weak links in the global economy, this new nexus is a serious threat: most of the world's oil and gas is shipped through pirate-infested waters.
In a recent Foreign Affairs article, IAGS' Gal Luft and Anne Korin analyze the situation and recommend policies to mitigate the risk.
Radical Islam and LNG in Trinidad and Tobago
As the risk of maritime terror attacks on tankers grows, all eyes are on the area
surrounding the Malacca Straits and other world oil bottlenecks. Very little attention is placed on the U.S. underbelly of the Caribbean and the softer targets in the region closest to America's back yard: Trinidad, Venezuela and the Bahamas.
Trinidad and Tobago alone account for 80% of all U.S. LNG imports. Security analyst
Candyce Kelshall warns that Islamist terrorist groups are active on the island and might find LNG shipping an attractive target.
Chinese quest for crude increases focus on Africa
The scramble for Africa's oil and gas reserves continues. US, European and Asian companies have been flocking to the capitals of Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, Angola, Egypt and even Sudan in recent months. Yet the battle for energy resources on the African continent still appears to be in its early stages.
Leading oil sector analysts have warned of growing conflict between Western and Asian countries as they seek to outbid each other for key hydrocarbon assets in Africa. These forecasts have been largely based on the expectation that China will become the major player in nontraditional oil and gas producing regions on the continent. IAGS Associate Fellow
Cyril Widdershoven discusses.
Inside the Beltway
National security experts call to reduce dependence on oil
On September 27, 2004 a group of national security experts and representatives of prominent Washington think tanks and public policy organizations released an open letter to Americans and an accompanying blueprint for energy security called "Set America Free," calling for an immediate action toward reduction of America's demand for oil. The document spells out practical steps which can be undertaken over the next four years and beyond to dramatically improve America's energy security. Members of the group called upon America's leaders to adopt the plan, with a view to rapidly expanding fuel choice in the U.S. transportation sector beyond petroleum while exploiting currently available technologies and infrastructures. If the plan is carried out in full, U.S. oil imports would drop by as much as 50 percent.
On September 27, 2004, the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) hosted Target: Energy, a symposium to assess threats to the global energy system and how to address them. The symposium brought together leading experts on national security and energy to address the following questions: how vulnerable to terrorism is oil infrastructure in the Persian Gulf? How vulnerable are energy transportation routes? How vulnerable is the U.S. energy system? and how can the U.S. defend the world's oil and gas market from supply disruptions?
Out of the Box
Needed: Three 1-billion-barrel oil banks
It's too early to celebrate the recent decline in oil prices after they topped $55 a barrel. None of the reasons that created the price spike -- the strong thirst for crude in China and India, the dismemberment of the Russian oil giant Yukos, the terror strikes against oil facilities in the Middle East -- has gone away. Like the hurricane season in Florida, the oil market may be facing even more violent storms. The lesson from the recent price jump is that the oil market has too little wiggle room to deal with supply disruptions. It's time
for consuming nations to think about providing their own liquidity mechanisms.