Saturday, March 12, 2011

Today's Rant: The Threat to the Oil Infrastructure

This is actually a rant from yesterday, but my bloody browser kept crashing everytime i tried to do anything revolving around the link to the Robert Rapier post below. Conspiracy perhaps? I tried Chrome, Explorer, and Firefox, and was only successful with Safari! (...hmmmm....?)

I've been following the news regarding rising oil prices and keep having this one question that I want to hear discussed but I'm not hearing it. So....I'll pose the question, and maybe someone will have an answer for me:

Why aren't people (investment analysts, commodity speculators, governments) concerned about strategic oil reserves, et. al) discussing the larger issue that is arising from the unrest ( re-balancing / revolutions / day's of rage / jasmine protests, etc) in the Middle East? That is the the larger threat to the Oil Infrastructure? Specifically the interdependent network of pipelines, shipping ports, critical water ways, and such?

I'm not the first to pose this question I realize, in fact in October 2010 Robert Rapier wrobe a two part blog post entitled "Oil Infrastructure and Terrorism". (This is a MUST read article if the topic of this blog post if of any interest to you) In the post he posed the question:

"Given the strategic importance of Middle East oil to the West and its economic and technological dependence on oil: Why have pipelines in that part of the globe not been primary targets of international terrorism to date?" 

I have a few points, however compared to the report and blog post by Robert Rapier, they are clearly the rantings of an under-informed westerner with just enough knowledge to be dangerous (as they say).:

The Suez Canal - Once 'controlled' by the west, then returned to it's rightful owners, Egypt, it was, however still under control by the Mubarak regime which prevented Iranian warships from passing through the strategically important canal. However, only days after the Mubarak regime was toppled, permission was granted to Iranian Warships. (see news links cnnbbcreutersvideo via RussiaTodayTehran Times, etc..) 

Saudi Arabia - News from the region may or may not be (depending on who you read/listen to) limited by access to the internet, however it appears that even up to today the possible "protests" have been limited to small gatherings with the exception of the March 10th incident in Qatif. Although that incident made headlines quickly and oil prices surged, reports that the Saudi Government was working with the "people" giving them food, education, and other benefits in excess of US$ 3 billion alleviated fears of an Oil interruption.. 

Ghawar Field
What wasn't discussed in detail is the importance of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, which (according to the most reliable source for news on the internet, Wikipedia), "Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil producing company of Saudi Arabia, is based in Dhahran, which is located in the Eastern Province, and most decisions on oil policy and production that affect the global economy are made there. The kingdom's main oil and gas fields are mostly located in the Eastern Province, onshore and offshore. Notable among these are the ghawar oilfield and the largest crude increment in the world. Petroleum from the fields is shipped to dozens of countries from the oil port of Ras Tanura ...."

Similarly the US government has repeatedly assured the American consumer and commodity markets that the Saudi government has agreed to increase Oil output to offset any loss from Libya going offline. Why focus on only that minor part of the bigger possible issue? 

What am I missing??

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