Friday, 13 February 2015

Threats to Pipeline Security: Oil Thefts and Terrorism

Major Caspian Oil and Natural Gas Export Routes (Source: US Energy Information Administration)

Dealing with Oil Theft in Central Asia through cross-border cooperation

In recent years, many Central Asian countries have introduced much stiffer penalties for oil theft to deter criminals in recognition of the huge economic, societal and environmental problems that can result from this crime.

Pipeline tapping, the process most commonly used when siphoning oil, causes a drop in pressure inside the pipe, which in turn decreases the speed of delivery and quality of oil. This process also raises significant environmental security concerns as tapping can cause oil leaks, which can lead to long term environmental damage and can compromise vital water supplies.

Financial loss and environmental danger are not the only problems arising from oil theft; a link has recently been established between the revenue generated from illicit oil trafficking in Central Asia, and the financing of criminal syndicates and radical religious organisations active in the region.
Given the marked increase in terrorist attacks globally, the growing power and presence of these groups is a major concern for Central Asian states.

The threat posed by ISIS to security of the oil and gas industry in Central Asia

The growing sphere of influence of the Islamic State (IS) has led to an increase in extremist rhetoric and activities in many regions around the world, including Central Asia. The notable increase in terrorist activities, surge in recruitment for terrorist organisations, and rise in illicit oil trafficking to fund these organisations have been largely accredited to the presence of IS agents and sympathisers in Central Asia.

In recent years there has been a growing trend of groups fighting for political or religious rights deploying attacks on oil and gas infrastructure as a means of drawing attention to their cause, and Central Asia is no exception. The 2012 In Amenas attack in Algeria highlighted to the global oil industry just how vulnerable oil and gas facilities can be to terrorist attacks.  

Arguably, the biggest problems for States with citizens fighting in Syria or Afghanistan, such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, are what will happen when these radicalised militants return home. The geographical closeness of Afghanistan and planned departure of the international military force from the country poses an urgent need to review security arrangements in Central Asia to ensure public safety and in turn the political and economic stability of the region. Adjustments to terrorism security planning should be made not only by local Governments but also by national and international oil and gas companies due to their presence and influence in the region.

Labour relations and their impact on physical security in the oil industry

The history of employee conflict within the oil and gas industry of Central Asia highlights the dangerous outcomes that can result from normal conflict situations. These can include simple multi-cultural differences, disagreement with the appointment of a new Director and management, difficult or changing working conditions, and badly-received salary levels.

Furthermore, when oil and gas operations are in close proximity to the local community, strikes can often lead to violent demonstrations and general detest towards oil and gas companies. Although the security department can’t control all factors that generate dissatisfaction to employees, it is often the division that has to deal with the consequent outcome and arising tension.

2nd CACOGS 2015 Forum

The 2nd CACOGS Forum - Central Asia and Caspian Oil & Gas Security 2015 Forum, organised by International Research Networks, a leading business intelligence group, on 3rd-4th March 2015 in Almaty – Kazakhstan will gather key security decision makers within the oil industry in Central Asia to discuss the issues above and more, encouraging international co-operation.  

Covering all issues that raise security concerns, the Forum will facilitate discussions on maritime security in the Caspian Sea, cyber-attacks, pipeline security, labour relations, the growing threat of terrorism and others key areas.

Implications and solutions, future threats and prevention will form the focus of this senior level meeting.

More information can be found on the website

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