In mid-January, militants raided Algeria’s In Amenas gas field, sparking a crisis that ended with the deaths of at least 37 hostages. Anne Korin, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, an energy security research organization, explained in an email interview why the oil and gas industry is an attractive target for terrorists.
WPR: What makes the oil and gas industry an attractive target for terrorists?
Anne Korin: In many parts of the world where oil and gas export income is a critical contributor to regime budgets, attacking oil and gas infrastructure serves to strike a direct and highly visible blow against the regime and its foreign partners. It also undermines stability, especially in cases of attacks on infrastructure feeding domestic energy demand such as pipelines that deliver fuel to power plants and so forth. Oil and gas infrastructure also tends to be sprawling -- pipelines, for example, stretch across hundreds if not thousands of miles -- and so is tremendously difficult to defend. Finally, oil and gas ignite easily, creating spectacular fireballs and an impact many multiples of the ammunition used.