Editorial: Distrust and Caution In Oil And Gas Country

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Tim Haïdar

"Distrust and caution are the parents of security." Benjamin Franklin (1705-1790)

The recent killing of eight security personnel near the Belhaf gas export terminal has underlined an alarming trend in the oil and gas world – the increasing targeting of oil and gas infrastructure in countries where hydrocarbon exploitation makes up a significant portion of state revenue.

In states like Yemen, hydrocarbons make up 70 per cent of national exports. In a war-torn Iraq, where a bomb attack on the country’s Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline suspended all exports to Turkey, oil production accounts for some 95 per cent of government revenue and is central to its government’s policy of economic regeneration. But countries driven by oil and gas income are not limited to the echelons of failed or failing states: 30 per cent of the economy of Norway is derived from oil and gas exploitation and in the UK, the industry paid £6.5 billion in corporate taxes into the Exchequer.

As our 2013 CIO survey showed, 75 per cent of CIOs deemed cyber attacks to be a major threat to oil and gas operations. This fear was borne out in the US in 2012, where 40 per cent of all cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure assets targeted the energy sector. It is estimated that securing the on and offshore oil and gas value chain - both in terms of physical and cyber infrastructure - will cost the global industry $23.2 billion by the end of 2013.

This is set to increase to just under $30 billion by 2018, and is projected to rise by more than 5 per cent per annum after that. The question is, can distrust and caution cancel out IEDs and polymorphic worms?