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Home Archive October 2009 Issue

October 2009 Issue

October 2009 Issue: Cyber-Attacks, Russian Pipelines, & Twenty Years After The Wall Came Tumbling Down

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall, NATO members are facing their own energy security challenges in the rapidly evolving world of energy geopolitics. Many of these challenges are posed by the Russian Federation within a European context, but the energy world often eclipses Russia with more persistent, viral threats. Chief among these concern Iran. On October 3rd The New York Times ran an article in which it concluded that Iran has "'sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable' atom bomb” based on a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The next day The Times of London reported in an article that, “Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has handed the Kremlin a list of Russian scientists believed by the Israelis to be helping Iran to develop a nuclear warhead. He is said to have delivered the list during a mysterious visit to Moscow.”  To give credit where credit is due, George Freedman put the pieces of this puzzle together, and then Ariel Cohen, a contributor to the Journal of Energy Security, provided a succinct analysis of their implications. If these allegations are true, the importance for the global security environment of a vastly accelerated Iranian nuclear program, and cooperation from Russian scientists in the process, goes well beyond the narrower boundaries of energy security. These developments deserve the attention of the global community and a discussion regarding how to respond to this threat.

Closer to home, this issue of the JES provides a mini-colloquium on cyber-threats on increasingly interconnected energy and power grids. A discussion of the Smart Grid in the United States is lead by David Baker at IOActive. Apparently with all the promise of the Smart Grid there are vulnerabilities that have been uncovered with the application of Smart Meters on the grid. Baker sorts out not only the threats stemming from this problem, but also the potential solutions. Frank Umbach and Uwe Nerlich from the German Centre for Energy Security Strategies give us a glimpse into the findings of their Octavio-Project, funded by the European Commission on cyber-warfare threats to European IT based energy networks. The backdrop against which these threats are transpiring is one of accelerating targeting of energy infrastructure, detailed by Jennifer Giroux and Caroline Hilpert who pursue energy security related research at Zurich, ETH’s Center for Security Studies in Switzerland. Within a European context, Edward Christie of the Vienna Institute of International Economics provides an outstanding, lucid analysis of Russian pipeline development across the European continent, and in doing so underscores the importance of European solidarity with Ukraine in energy transport. Not all is bleak however. Long time friend of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, Bruce Averill, provides a formula for creating public private partnerships to bridge the gulf between private industry security professionals and state apparatus that provide the overall security function for their oil and gas industries.

Best regards,

Kevin Rosner
Managing Editor, Journal of Energy Security


European Energy Infrastructure Protection: Addressing the Cyber-warfare Threat

European Energy Infrastructure Protection: Addressing the Cyber-warfare Threat

The threat of a "digital Pearl Harbor" is on our door-step according to European security and defense research carried out by the Center for European Security Strategies (CESS) in Munich and Berlin. In a sobering analysis by Drs. Nerlich and Umbach, this first glimpse into the "Octavio-Project", a research project executed for the European Commission, demonstrates in particular the vulnerabilities that Europe's gas supply system and control centers may confront from cyber-attack.


Making a Secure Smart Grid a Reality

Securing the electricity grid is easier said than done. With the development of the Smart Grid (the good), come new systemic vulnerabilities (the bad). David Baker, an expert with IOActive, analyzes whether “early-to-market” technologies such as Smart Meters are up to the potential challenges posed by cyber-attacks and discusses what can be done by government, utilities and Smart Meter vendors to better ensure the security and resiliency of the Smart Grid.


Using Public-Private Partnerships to Improve International Energy Infrastructure Security

Bruce Averill, former Senior Coordinator for Critical Energy Infrastructure Protection Policy at the U.S. Department of State, says there is a disconnect between the industrial security function and the challenges faced by governments in protecting their critical industries from energy terrorism. Bridging this gap requires closer public-private partnerships in improving security at overseas energy facilities.


Resilience and Conflict in European Natural Gas Relations

Controversy surrounds the construction of the Russian-German Nord Stream pipeline as well as the proposed South Stream pipeline.  Measuring the utility of these pipelines and gauging their value be it economic, utilitarian or security in orientation has been problematic until now.  Edward Christie of the Vienna Institute of International Economic Studies provides an adept analysis that clarifies these issues and sets the stage for further analysis of third-country pipelines coming into the European Union and their potential utility for enhancing  European energy supply security. 


The Relationship Between Energy Infrastructure Attacks and Crude Oil Prices

Over the Period 2004-2008 contributors Jennifer Giroux and Carolin Hilpert maintain that, in addition to accelerating global demand for oil, there was a direct correlation between EI attacks and increasing global energy prices driven by traders and speculators who viewed EI targeting as a threat to supply and, perhaps, an exploitable opportunity to inflate prices. Price volatility has also been accelerated by fundamental changes in the structure of oil markets and a weakening in regulatory oversight these markets once received.


Twenty Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall: NATO's Enduring Energy Challenge

Twenty Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall: NATO's Enduring Energy ChallengeThis November marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. It defines the fundamental success of NATO’s enduring purpose to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means. To paraphrase a statement by US President Obama, now is not the time to pat ourselves on the back but now is the time to get down to the work at hand.


US Energy Security Council RT discussion

New Books

Petropoly: the Collapse of America's Energy Security Paradigm
Energy Security Challenges for the 21st Century

"Remarkable collection spanning geopolitics, economy and technology. This timely and comprehensive volume is a one stop shop for anyone interested in one of the most important issues in international relations."
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R. James Woolsey, Former CIA Director

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Robert C. McFarlane, Former U.S. National Security Advisor
Russian Coal: Europe's New Energy Challenge