News / Africa

Africa's Energy Facilities Could Face More Sophisticated Attacks

Energy Facilities Could Face More Sophisticated Attacksi
February 08, 2013 10:55 PM
Oil prices jumped recently when terrorists launched a deadly attack on a major energy facility in Algeria. VOA’s Jim Randle reports that some experts believe more attacks are likely, and the weapons and tactics used probably will become more sophisticated.
Energy Facilities Could Face More Sophisticated Attacks
Jim Randle
Oil prices jumped when terrorists launched a deadly attack on a major energy facility in Algeria recently. Some experts believe more attacks are likely, and the weapons and tactics used will probably become more sophisticated. 

Terrorists with links to al-Qaida stormed a gas production complex in Algeria in January. They wrecked equipment and took hostages. Government forces re-took the facility, but not before 37 hostages were killed.

Experts say energy facilities are targets because they are staffed by foreign engineers who can sometimes be exchanged for large ransoms, or bring attention to a cause. 

The threat is growing in the Middle East, according to energy expert Bernard Weinstein, of Maguire Energy Institute in Texas. He spoke via Skype.

"What is new is what appears to be a spurt of terrorist activity in the Maghreb of North Africa," he said.

Weinsten says a “risk premium” already boosts the cost of oil by up to ten percent. Risk affects costs throughout the process of producing, transporting and selling oil and gas. For example, workers demand higher wages for serving in dangerous areas, and insurance costs more.  Higher risks mean investors might not put assets into oil companies unless they are assured higher returns.

Violence, or the threat of violence, can suppress supplies, thereby raising the price.
Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Oil, said the impact of future attacks could be devastating.

“The economic repercussions could be huge," said Faulkner. "If the needle moved five or eight dollars a barrel on oil, or if they had a major disruption in supply, and it went up by $50, that is going to cause prices at the pump of gasoline here to go up. It  is going to cause a panic in the economies and the markets, and they can cause significant damage."

Gal Luft, an energy expert, said cyber attacks are a growing concern for energy companies.

"As cyber terrorists realize the vulnerability, they may improve their technical sophistication and eventually develop capabilities that could wreak havoc in global oil and gas markets," said Luft.

So far, the most serious cyber attacks have been aimed at power grids  rather than at oil or gas production. Luft said, however, that could change.

Meantime, oil prices that spiked right after the Algeria attack remain high.

You May Like

Pakistan Among Developing Countries Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
February 09, 2013 10:01 PM
Linking oil prices to a natural gas extraction facility, in my opinion, is just another pretext for big oil companies to continue to raise prices. Between the oil companies and the financial institutions, it is no longer possible for many smaller organizations to stay in business, nor hire more employees; and the cost of living just continues to put families at risk of not being able to afford the basics of life. With the masive deposits of shale oil in the US, and in many other countries, the oil prices should be going down. In the past, the pretext of the oil prices going up, was the rapidly diminishing reserves. In many countries, were the oil industry has been nationalized or has always been state owned, the oil prices have gone down or remained significantly below world market prices, I will agree that many of those gvmts are nowhere as rich, or as profitable as some of the big oil companies. Oil prices have an impact on all commodities, they are a strategic asset, and a better way to manage them may need to be established, before we all face bankruptcy. Unafordable cost of living, for the basics, is driving many of the current global unrests and famine, that we observe.

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs