Energy Security Current Issue
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
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.
Chinese Quest for Crude Increases Focus on Africa
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.
Terror's Big Prize
Since September 11, pipelines, tankers, refineries and oil terminals have been attacked frequently. Except for a sharp increase in maritime insurance premiums in these regions these attacks had marginal strategic consequences. But in at least two cases oil terrorism could have rattled the world.
Needed: Three 1-billion-barrel oil banks
The lesson from the recent oil 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.
On the technology front
Fuel Cell power plant installed at NJ College
The fuel cell will provide 250 kilowatts of electric power as well as heat, to several buildings on the campus.
The enzyme costs of converting cellulosic biomass into sugars for fuel ethanol production have been reduced approximately twenty-fold with technology developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Denmark based Novozymes, biotech-based leader in enzymes and microorganisms.
EU study: Methanol from biomass - competitive with gasoline
A study of a new patented Swedish technology concluded that the alchohol fuel methanol can be
produced from biomass via black liquor gasification at a cost competitive with that of gasoline and diesel.
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Radical Islam and LNG in Trinidad and Tobago
Over the past several years, maritime attacks have become more violent, more
frequent and clearly more organized. It is believed that militant groups,
particularly in South East Asia, are practicing hijacking ships for their possible use as
weapons. Of all types of vessels oil and chemical tankers are perhaps the
most attractive targets for terrorists. These vessels are manned by
crews and loaded with volatile substances that could potentially cause significant
According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB)
attacks against tankers are growing at an alarming rate.
While all eyes are placed on the area surrounding the Malacca Straits, the
world oil bottleneck, and on the Indonesian coast off Aceh, 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.
These Caribbean countries are among the short list of
natural gas producing countries and liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas
Trinidad and Tobago alone account for 80% (1st quarter 2004) of all U.S.
imports, up from 68% in 2002. Therefore, any incident involving an LNG
tanker along the Caribbean routes could harm not only U.S. energy security
but also the economies of the Caribbean islands, affecting tourism and
LNG and Tanker Terrorism
U.S. Department of Energy figures paint a bleak picture for U.S.
dependence on imported energy in the coming decades. Existing well heads
the U.S. are being depleted while demand for natural
is expected to rise 2% a year.
Imports from Canada, whose own energy demand is increasing, are projected
pick up some of the burden. But Canada's gas demand is growing faster than
expected, also due to the gas intensive process of
converting tar sands
to crude oil, and thus its ability to export gas to the U.S. is being
diminished. The U.S. will therefore be required to import more of its gas
LNG form from Nigeria, Sao Tome, Trinidad, Venezuela and the Persian Gulf.
Today 2% of total gas usage in the U.S. is derived from LNG. By 2010 this
figure is likely to grow to 10%.
LNG terminals and tankers present potential targets for
In the pre-9/11 world LNG tankers were considered among the
safest ships at sea. These tankers are still as safe as is possible for a
vessel of this nature today. But this statement is only valid if one
pre-supposes that terrorists do not want an easily attainable weapon of
destruction. The potential for mass casualty maritime suicide terrorism
changed our perceptions of safety at sea especially when it comes to lean
crewed LNG tankers and other PCG (Petro/chemical/gas) and ships. With
maritime terrorists currently combing the world for ways to make their message
reach as wide an audience as possible, LNG tankers could be their perfect mass
Islamic fundamentalism in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is a beautiful country in the Southern part of the
Caribbean. It is in fact the southernmost of the Caribbean islands and the
last island before Venezuela. It is one of the most affluent of the
Caribbean islands with, for several years, the highest foreign direct investment per capita in
the entire western hemisphere except for Canada. The home of tourism,
steel band, calypso and carnival is unfortunately also the home of one of the
first attempts at violently establishing a modern Islamic extremist state
in the region after the attempted Islamic coup in July 1990. 15% of the island's population
The group responsible, Jama'at al Muslimeen under the control of Imam Yasin
Abu Bakr, is alive and thriving in Trinidad.
Congressional testimony of Major General Gary D. Speer, Acting Commander in
U.S. Southern Command to the House Appropriations Committee on
Relations, Subcommittee on Foreign Operations in April 2002 stated: "The
recent bombing outside the U.S Embassy in Peru preceding President Bush's
visit is indicative that other domestic terrorist groups pose threats to
United States elsewhere in the hemisphere. These include, but are not
limited to, the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and Tupac Amaru
Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in Peru and the Jama'at al Muslimeen (JAM)
Trinidad and Tobago."
Other groups active on the island are Waajihatul
Islaamiyyah (The Islamic Front) and the Jamaat al Murabiteen.
The Waajihatul Islaamiyyah group openly supports Osama Bin Laden, al Qaeda
and Jemmah Islamiyyah, the organization behind the Bali beachfront
that killed close to 200 people. It has issued statements that it intends
set up an Islamic state and described itself as a revolutionary
movement. Their press releases include the following statements: "With
weapons we are going reach you. We will reach you where you sleep, we will
reach you where you take your baths, we will reach you where you take your
meals and have your drinks, and even a glass of water you hold in your
to drink may not be safe." It added: "Don't for one second think you will
victorious. You feel you fight and kill us but you only fight shadows cast
by the Qur'an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Your faith is in
your hands-choose how it ends."
There have been other leads back to Trinidad as part of the global
on terrorism. In March 2003, federal investigators announced publicly that
they were searching for Adnan El'Shukri-Jumah, an American man named by a
top al Qaeda operative as a trained terrorist. El'Shukri-Jumah had
home to visit relatives in Georgetown during Ramadan 2001. He was traced
to Trinidad and Canada but was lost enroute. The Sun-Sentinel reported that investigators were following up leads that El'Shukri-Jumah's father,
Gulshair El'Shukri-Jumah, taught at the Darul Uloom Institute and Islamic
Training Centre in Pembroke Pines, U.S. and suspicion turned to the Darul
Uloom in Cunupia, Trinidad a 45-minute drive from Trinidad's capital,
Port-of-Spain. The two schools shared the same name and the connections
between El'Shukri-Jumah and the arrested al Qaeda operative led
investigators to examine the likelihood them being part of a network for
training and financing terrorists. Investigations into the connections
On September 19, 2001 a man with ties to the Jamaat alleged to be linked
bin Laden pleaded guilty in a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, federal court to
unlawful possession of a machine gun. Insight Magazine reported "Federal officials say that Keith
Gaude, who was detained in a U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
(ATF) sting operation, came to Florida to buy as many as 60 AK-47 assault
rifles and 10 MAC-10 submachine guns with silencers."
In October 2002, Trinidad immigrant Shueyb Mossa Jokhan was sentenced to
"nearly five years in federal prison for a terrorist bombing plot,"
according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The report said that Jokhan
pleaded guilty to "conspiring to bomb electrical transformers and the
Israeli Consulate in Miami." The plan reportedly was "hatched in a Florida
mosque" and involved a Pakistani immigrant who recruited Jokhan for the
In December 2002, Insight Magazine found
evidence that al Qaeda and two other Middle East terrorist groups had
allegedly established operations and leading a holy war against U.S. and
British interests from Trinidad and Tobago. "Umar Abdullah is "leading a
group called the Islamic Front," believed to be "smuggling AK-47s, Tech-9s
and Glocks" into the island country. It is believed that Abdullah may have
fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union during the 1980s, and
operates "in solidarity with al Qaeda and the Taliban" and is "maintaining
relations with [the Palestinian terrorist groups] Hamas and Islamic
All these incidents indicate a growing presence of Islamist fundamentalism
in the part of the world where America's LNG comes from. Without question
there is concern that the significant presence of U.S. and British
companies in the oil-rich nation provide easy pickings for terrorists.
opinion is that this is the reason U.S. and British counterterrorism
are on the island.
Under the leadership of Trinidad and Tobago's effective new and aggressive
Minister for National Security Senator Martin Joseph, the law enforcement units in Trinidad and Tobago
well trained, able and resourceful and it is to their credit that they
held the forces of terrorism at bay thus far. The Joint Operations Command
Center set up in the late 1990s has been spearheading the fight against
maritime crime, narcotic interdiction, and arms smuggling and the ethos of
information sharing and joint operations promoted by the Center was a
radical new departure in intelligence gathering and operations in the
region. New systems are currently being put in place to ensure that
intelligence is focused and operations driven.
But all this may not be enough to prevent terrorists from targeting LNG
facilities in the serene Caribbean.
Despite U.S. reliance on the country for its LNG deliveries, the
presence of fundamentalists in the region and its increasing
as a target the area has received little attention in the counterterrorism
community. To address the danger the eyes of the world and the
international co-operation in intelligence sharing, training, and
operational practice should now focus upon this undeclared maritime
which has fallen under the radar. If we are to ensure the safety of the
gas deliveries to the U.S., the safety of the transit zones and the islands
located along the Caribbean shipping lanes then we have to ensure that
targets are hardened around the world and not just in the current piracy
What can be done?
The idea that terrorists could
attack an LNG tanker en route to the U.S. or Japan or Spain, the three main
destinations for LNG leaving the Caribbean, either via sea or with small
aircraft on a suicide mission must be recognized as possible and acted
The island chain that
LNG tankers sail through en route to their destinations provide any number of
soft targets with limited response resources.
In a circumstance such as this, consideration should be given to the
co-ordination and communication issues that a terrorist hijacking of one
of these vessels would create.
In a multi-agency response scenario command and control would be vital to
the resolution of an incident if resolution is even possible. Contingency
planning for rapid response teams and counter action teams should be a
priority in the region. Regional co-operation is the missing link.
The multi dimensional reaction capability must be jointly assessed and jointly planned.
Escort ships and a heightened alert state should be enforced with the law
enforcement fraternity when LNG or crude oil tankers are transiting
populated areas. Guard ship duties should be part of the regular
procedures of the maritime authorities in the region and extra vigilance
along coast lines coupled with moving security cordons around vessels must
be enforced. Special handover radar procedures and joint jurisdictional
crisis teams should be established to deal with an incident as a hijacked
LNG tanker will affect any number of nations along its route.
When LNG tankers go into an LNG port to discharge cargo fast escort boats
should travel alongside each gas tanker as it makes its journey to the
terminal. Aerial surveillance for the passage of the vessel into port can
also be provided by law enforcement. A security zone extending 500 yards
each side, two miles ahead and a mile behind the tanker should be imposed
and other vessels should be instructed to give the tanker a wide berth
during its passage. All boat traffic should be forbidden in the moving
When LNG tankers approach a port in the U.S. six tugboats direct the
movements while two others provide state-of-the-art fire fighting
U.S. Coast Guard crews board and inspect the ship before it enters the
harbor. As many as a half-dozen armed U.S. Coast Guard vessels accompany
the ship through the harbour. Also present are state and local police
The restrictions remain in force during the 12-hour unloading process.
Violators face arrest, fines of up to $25,000 and prison terms of up to 10
years. This model has so far been successful and could be emulated in the
Co-ordination, communication and joint tracking coupled with joint
and operational exercises will ensure that shipments are effectively
monitored as they transit the Caribbean and any threats in the area
communicated to the vessel as it leaves and enters one jurisdiction from
another. Some of these measures are mandated by the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code
(ISPS Code) but
implementation of monitoring centres and joint regional responses need
planning and a pro-active stance by the maritime policing and naval
in the region. The Caribbean is one seaway and joint coastal surveillance
and information sharing is an absolute requirement in an era of increasing
Candyce Kelshall is Director of Bluewater Defence and Security Ltd and
Director of Task International Ltd and currently sits on the UK
SITO National Port Security Standards Committee.