Saudi refinery attack: Warning to India

The Financial Times reported today that Oil prices jump as bombers strike at Saudi refinery:

Saudi Arabia’s oil industry on Friday came close to the most serious terrorist attack in its history when suicide bombers targeted the Abqaiq processing plant, the world’s biggest oil producer.

The attack did not interrupt exports but oil prices jumped amid fears that terrorists were planning a new offensive in their fight against the industry.

Fadel Gheit, analyst at Oppenheimer and Company, said: “This is the nerve centre of the world’s oil trade. Damaging the facility…would be unleashing a hurricane that engulfs the world. Within days all governments would step in to curtail consumption in a co-ordinated effort.” (Bolding by Right Indian)

West Texas Intermediate on the New York Mercantile Exchange, for April, jumped $2.37 a barrel to $62.91, while London Brent rose $2.06 to $62.60 a barrel. The Abqaiq facility processes two-thirds of the kingdom’s output of 9.5m barrels of oil a day and is a critical artery for exports that supply more than 10 per cent of the world’s needs.

The bolded lines above are particularly disturbing. They are most illustrative of just how much the world economy is dependent on oil from the Mid-East.

The Abqaiq oil facility is reportedly the world’s biggest oil processing plant. It has also been described as a “spectacular target” in a Reuters report:

Former Middle East CIA field officer Robert Baer has described Abqaiq as “the most vulnerable point and most spectacular target in the Saudi oil system.”

But Aramco says it has the tightest security at all its oil plants, including helicopters, cameras, motion detectors and thousands of armed guards.

“The security measures at the oil facilities are better than those at the royal palaces,” said al Qaeda expert Fares bin Houzam.

Despite such tight security, The Financial Times reports:

at least one of the cars got through the first security perimeter, leaving it just one mile from the huge facility before it exploded under heavy gunfire from the guards.

This incident must sound a big warning to India, which is determined to tie itself up with the gas pipe-line project to transport gas from Iran to India, via the never-trustworthy Pakistan! If damaging an important Saudi oil refinery “would be unleashing a hurricane that would engulf the world”, imagine how India’s economy would suffer when it becomes dependent on the gas from Iran, and the pipe-line via Pakistan is damaged, destroyed or hijacked by terrorists! Yes, the question is of when, and not if, the pipe-line will be targetted by terrorists. After all, thousands of miles long pipe-line cannot be as well secured as the Saudi refinery, and there is not much love for India and her well-being in Pakistan and its terrorists.

Now, what part of this very valid security concern is hard to understand? Yet, officials and ministers of the Indian government almost never talk about this concern in public. They seem to be too keen to confirm, endorse and push forward this ill-fated project as reported in The Hindu:

India committed to Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline: PM

New Delhi, Feb. 17 (PTI): Sending a strong message of commitment to the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is believed to have favoured the three nations building the over 7 billion dollar pipeline together.

Singh, who spelled India’s commitment to the 2,100-km-long pipeline in a statement to the Parliament, cancelled prior appointments for meeting the visiting Pakistani Oil Minister Amanullah Khan Jadoon, and termed the project as “pipeline for peace, progres (sic) and friendship” of the three nations, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, told reporters here.

Yeah, yeah! Indian ministers never lose an opportunity to shout slogans of “peace and friendship” when it comes to matters involving Pakistan. What does Pakistan get in exchange for its peace and friendship? Hard cash! M Ziauddin, editor of the Pakistani daily Dawn is quoted in a BBC report dated June 7th, 2005:

Mr Ziauddin believes that the pipeline from Iran will not only provide the much needed boost to the Indian economy but it will also become a source of revenue for Pakistan.

“If without investing much Pakistan can start getting $500m-$600m in annual revenue because of the pipeline, there is nothing like it for Pakistan. It will hugely benefit the economy and resolve the energy crisis also.”

How committed will Pakistan be to a peace and friendship it offers “without investing much”? Even if the Pakistani government is committed, what about the terrorists who operate from its territory? Will they hesitate from damaging / destroying / hijacking the gas pipe-line, if that causes the Indian economy to suffer? What part of the $500-$600 millions revenues from the pipe-line, will Pakistan use to fund anti-India terrorist activities?

These are questions the Indian government and leaders never seem ask, let alone try to get the answers for. Meanwhile, the warning from the Saudi oil refinery attack will go unheeded in India!


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