The efficiency of global energy markets and the

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Unformatted text preview: inded oil rationing through the International Energy Agency emergency systems, were it to come to that. 176 Oil DDW 2012 1 Oil infrastructure is resilient – Redundancy and constant demand Moran, Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. and Russell , 08 Daniel Moran, Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. and James A. Russell, Associate Professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, 3-7-08, [“The Militarization of Energy Security,” Saudi-US Relations Information Service,] E. Liu The energy sector offers a vast array of “soft” targets too, of course, above all the pipelines by which oil and gas are moved from production sites to refineries and export terminals. In physical terms much of this system is simply indefensible, and attacks upon it have been frequent as a consequence. Yet the global market impact that can be achieved by blows of this kind is limited and transient. The oil pipeline system of the Middle East especially was built with security in mind . The threat it was designed to counter was not terrorism, but the treachery of neighboring governments, whose willingness to allow someone else’s oil to flow through their territories without interference could never be taken for granted. Yet the resulting infrastructural redundancy serves equally well to mitigate the effects of terrorist attacks. If anything, the use of oil and gas pipelines as instruments of strategic coercion is better-suited to governments than to international outlaws. [20] From a terrorist’s perspective, then, the energy sector presents a complex set of problems and opportunities. The efficiency of global energy markets and the redundancy of global infrastructure makes the sector relatively resilient to the disruptive effects of all but the most apocalyptic physical attack. The air travel industry has taken years to recover from the psychological effects of the 2001 attacks on its customers. It is difficult to imagine an attack on a comparable scale having anything like a comparable effect on the energy sector. It is one thing to get people to reconsider their travel plans, another to get them to reconsider driving to work or heating their houses. Nevertheless, despite the difficulty of achieving strategic-level impacts on global markets, it would be a mistake to dismiss the threat out of hand. Saudi Arabia is a particularly attractive candidate for a sustained effort of disruption, because it boasts much of the world’s excess oil production capacity, the existence of which is critical to the management of oil prices. The consequences of a nuclear or radiological attack on a major Saudi facility might well achieve effects of broad and enduring consequence, by virtue of the anxiety it might inspire, or by destabilizing the Saudi regime itself, whose radicalization or overthrow would pose considerable risks to t...
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This note was uploaded on 01/30/2013 for the course ECON 101 taught by Professor Burke during the Spring '13 term at Southern Arkansas University.

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