Varun Sivaram

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The Future of Energy Insecurity

by Blake Clayton
November 9, 2012


A massive cyberattack this summer on Saudi Aramco, Riyadh’s energy giant, left some 30,000-plus of the company’s computers lifeless, making a rather futuristic threat to the oil and gas industry front page news. U.S. Secretary of Defenese Leon Panetta called the attack “probably the most destructive…that the business sector has seen to date.” The Saudis weren’t the only targets. RasGas, a Qatari natural gas company, was also hit. Months later, investigators are still trying to get to the bottom of what happened, and more importantly, why it did, and what can stop it from happening again.

In a piece for The National Interest, I argue that cyberattacks on oil assets around the world pose a real risk to energy prices, and hence the U.S. economy. They also jeopardize the competitiveness of American firms abroad. It’s an issue where national security and economic well-being meet. And it’s a challenge that’s not going away.

The risks of hackers penetrating the country’s electrical grid have been widely discussed for years. Less so what cyber means for oil and gas companies and markets. U.S. officials and the global energy industry have their hands full in coming to terms with this new virtual landscape.

Check out the piece here.

Post a Comment 2 Comments

  • Posted by David B. Benson

    Right here there is research of some years standing on improving the power grid’s computer connectivity. Therefore the impenetrability of this network by hackers is also of interest. The situation appears well in hand.

    I have read commentary elsewhere suggesting the Aramco & RassGas attacks are Iranian payback for the Stuxnet attack on their uranium centrifuges. Could be.

  • Posted by Paul Natsuo Kishimoto

    This is indeed an important issue, but it will be harder to take it seriously if ‘cyber’ joins ‘mobile’, ‘cloud’ and ‘social’ as a shibboleth used with the zero article to avoid clearly defining a topic.

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