Sunday, December 11, 2005

Suez canal terror attack alert

Egypt and Israel are responding to warnings of possible al-Qaeda terror attack along the Suez Canal as reported here:
Egypt put its installations along the Suez Canal on high alert over the weekend after receiving warnings of a possible terrorist attack by al-Qaida on ships in the strategic waterway.

The alert coincidentally followed a report in The Jerusalem Post (NB Eagle1: see here) Friday that the Israeli Navy had decided to avoid the Suez Canal out of concern its vessels would be targets for Islamic Jihad terrorists.

Egyptian canal officials and security sources told news agencies that the warnings had come from Egypt's embassy in Denmark, but did not give details about how the embassy received the information.

Egyptian security forces barred fishermen from the waterway and closed some roads leading to the canal, especially in the area between Ismailia and the northern entrance of Port Said.

Security was beefed up along the patrol roads parallel to the canal that are used by security and other authorities, an official from the Suez Canal Authority told news agencies.

Shipping in the canal, which is a major international trade route running between the Mediterranean and Red Sea, has not been affected by the measures, one official said.
Effect of stopping or slowing shipping flow through the Suez Canal here by the US Energy Information Adminstration:
Oil Flows (2004E): 3.8 million bbl/d northbound, and 0.4 million bbl/d southbound. Northbound shipments consisted of 2.5 million bbl/d of crude oil via the Sumed Pipeline (nearly all of which came from Saudi Arabia), 0.8 million bbl/d of crude oil via the Suez Canal, and 0.5 million bbl/d of petroleum products via the Suez Canal. Southbound oil flows through the Suez Canal totaled 0.3 million bbl/d of petroleum products, and 0.1 million bbl/d of crude oil.
Destination of Sumed Oil Exports: Predominantly Europe; also United States.
Concerns/Background: Closure of the Suez Canal and/or Sumed Pipeline would divert tankers around the southern tip of Africa (the Cape of Good Hope), adding greatly to transit time and effectively tying up tanker capacity...
...In 2004, about 3,300 oil tankers passed through the Suez Canal, an almost 20 percent increase in tanker traffic from 2003 levels, when 2,800 tankers passed through the canal. Total (both northbound and southbound) oil shipments increased from 1.4 to 1.7 million bbl/d between 2003 and 2004. Oil historically has represented about 25 percent of Suez Canal revenues. Currently, the Suez Canal can accommodate Suezmax class tankers with drafts of up to 62 feet and 200,000-dead-weight-ton maximum cargos. In 2001, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) launched a 5-year program to reduce tanker transit times (from 14 hours to 11 hours) through the Canal. The SCA also is moving ahead with a 10-year project to widen and deepened the Canal, so that by 2010 it can accommodate Very-Large-Crude-Carrier (VLCC) and Ultra-Large-Crude-Carrier (ULCC) class tankers with oil cargos of up to 350,000 dead-weight-tons.
UPDATE: You might recall the crude rocket attack from August 2005 here and here. Are the Jihadists plannning a large attack to coincide with the upcoming Iraqi elections so as to swamp media coverage of that important event? My guess is "Sure they are."

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