Offshore plants potential terror targets: US
Manama, February 27, 2008
Urgent action must be taken to improve the protection of offshore facilities against terrorist attack in the Gulf, a top US military official has warned.
Fifth Fleet commander Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff said a lack of safety precautions at desalination plants, oil and gas facilities and power generation plants meant they were vulnerable targets.
"It's no surprise an extremist would use just about any tactic to destroy, disrupt, or damage these facilities," he said.
"Built for civil use, most regional engineering structures do not include inherent self-protection.
"Typically these assets are not isolated, but near or in larger cities and economic centres.
"You can imagine the local and global impact if some of these key sites were successfully attacked.
"Likewise the sheer geographic sweep of coastal and offshore infrastructure creates its own set of challenges."
Vice Admiral Cosgriff was speaking during the opening ceremony of a three-day Maritime Infrastructure Protection conference, taking place at the Diplomat Radisson SAS Hotel, Residence and Spa.
Around 200 people attended the event, including security and navy officials as well as coastguard, police and industry leaders.
It featured speeches from a variety of industry experts and panel discussions on the threats facing the maritime security.
Vice Adm Cosgriff says terrorists are constantly evolving new tactics and methods of attack and it is vital that security experts keep one step ahead.
"I believe we are only beginning to fully grasp the full range of activities in which we must become proficient," he said.
"The aftermath of an attack on an oil infrastructure particularly would create a serious environmental impact.
"However, consequence management and crisis response are not solely required due to terrorist activity, they could be from a natural disaster such as an earthquake.
"In some way or another, every Gulf and regional nation is dependent on maritime infrastructure for their economy and welfare."
Cosgriff called for closer collaboration among regional and international governments, corporations, law enforcement officers and the offshore industry and more initiatives for the training and testing initiatives.
"It involves co-operation and interaction not only in the military, but in the commercial sector, which has a vested interest in its own self protection," he said.-TradeArabia News Service