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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Terror threat: Energy infrastructure

Houston-Galveston area
Pilot map Houston Ship Channel
Houston Ship Channel industries
An analyis of the terrorist threat to the energy industry here, which points out the relatively robust (and redundant) nature of most aspects of the oil business and contains a chilling warning for the Houston Ship Channel and other logistical links to the sea lines of communication (platforms used for loading oil tankers especially):
In the Western Hemisphere, there really is only one target that, if damaged, could cause a major impact on energy supplies: the Houston Ship Channel. The channel snakes from Houston Bay through a network of refineries and petrochemical plants.

The channel itself is not vulnerable, but if a large craft — perhaps an oil tanker — were sunk in it, it would block the United States’ most vulnerable energy corridor.

Most targets of note are instead in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has a five million barrel per day pipeline, the Petroline, which transports crude across the Arabian Peninsula. While it undoubtedly could be repaired quickly, even a brief interruption at the world’s largest energy pipeline could have far-reaching effects. The real concern is that something would happen to Ras Tanura in Saudi Arabia — the world’s largest oil-loading platform, capable of pumping six million bpd. Were something to happen to Ras Tanura — particularly if the Petroline were also knocked offline so that the Saudis could not redirect crude to alternative ports — the global impact would be fierce.
Ras Tanura

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