Thursday, July 10, 2008

Terrorists and the Energy Infrastructure: What's the Risk?

In a brief paper published under the auspices of the Naval Postgraduate School, Dr. Michael Mihalka and Dr. David Anderson analyze the risk of catastrophic terrorism targeting the energy infrastructure. They argue that the risk is relatively slight when compared to other threats:

The threat from and effect of transnational terrorism [to the energy sector] is much less than many pundits have argued. In essence, the transnational terrorism poses a challenge well within the parameters of natural events and the ability of the current security system to handle.

Well, we must remember that the prime threat to the security of supply in the short-term perspective is not terrorism, or even politics. It's Mother Nature.
It's certainly true that a terrorist group would really have to "go big" to replicate the kind of disruption to the energy sector that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused.

Energy is one sector in which the ability to respond and recover can be a real deterrent. A primary goal of any direct attack on energy infrastructure would be economic. But if the economic damage is mitigated by resiliency in the sector, then there's less rationale for the attack.

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