OPINION AND EDITORIAL
The explosion in Port Neches, Texas has raised awareness of the devastation such industrial accidents cause.
Most notably, the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas, the largest transfer point for Liquefied Natural gas (LNG) in the United States, could have justifiable concern over such explosions. News coverage of such events highlight potential vulnerabilities for terrorism exploits some experts believe.
For instance, a theoretical model suggests that the burgeoning weapon of choice for potential attacks on Liquiefied Nitrigon Gas (LNG) tankers and natural gas transfer ports appears to be heavy lift drones that have attached flame thrower capability.
OTHER ATTACKS ON ENERGY BY DRONES
2019 Abqaiq–Khurais attack
On 14 September 2019, drones were used to attack the state-owned Saudi Aramco oil processing facilities at Abqaiq (Biqayq in Arabic) and Khurais in eastern Saudi Arabia. The Houthi movement in Yemen claimed responsibility, tying it to events surrounding the Saudi Arabian intervention in the Yemeni Civil War and stating they used ten drones in the attack launched from Yemen, south of the facilities. Saudi Arabian officials said that many more drones and cruise missiles were used for the attack and originated from the north and east, and that they were of Iranian manufacture. The United States and Saudi Arabia have stated that Iran was behind the attack while France, Germany, and the United Kingdom jointly stated Iran bears responsibility for it. Iran has denied any involvement. The situation has exacerbated the Persian Gulf crisis.
The attack caused large fires at the processing facility which, according to the Saudi Arabian interior ministry, were put out several hours later. Both facilities were shut down for repairs, cutting Saudi Arabia’s oil production by about half – representing about 5% of global oil production – and causing some destabilization of global financial markets. Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry said that the country would tap into its oil reserves to maintain export levels until the facilities return to full capacity by the end of September.
TERROR ATTACK WARNINGS
WASHINGTON – A terror attack on a tanker delivering liquefied natural gas (search) at a U.S. port could set off a fire so hot it would burn skin and damage buildings nearly a mile away, government scientists say in a report expected to influence where new multibillion-dollar terminals will be built.
The report from a government nuclear weapons lab, a 160-page unclassified version of which was obtained Monday by The Associated Press, characterizes an LNG tanker spill from a terror attack as a low probability. If successful, however, it would become “a high consequence event” that could produce massive injuries and property damage, the report said.
The yearlong study by scientists at Sandia National Laboratory (search), a premier federal research facility, provides the most detailed analysis to date of the potential public safety impact of a terrorist attack on an LNG transport tanker.
While the report does not recommend prohibiting tankers from carrying LNG through heavily populated areas, it says those shipments should occur only after “the most rigorous deterrent measures” are in place to reduce the probability of an attack.
The tankers, each of which carries up to 30 million gallons of LNG, arrive every few days at four U.S. terminals: Everett, Mass. (search); Cove Point, Md. (search); Elba Island, Ga. (search), and Lake Charles, La. (search). All are expanding as regulators weigh the merits of putting more than three dozen more such facilities at U.S. ports, many in urban areas.
U.S. regulators don’t share the concerns of the top official at the world’s second-largest commercial insurer.
A terrorist attack on an LNG tanker “would have the force of a small nuclear explosion,” according to the chairman of Lloyd’s, a British insurer of natural gas port facilities like the ones being proposed in Fall River and Providence.
The assertion, which is contested by industry experts, was in a speech that the chairman, Peter Levene, delivered last night to business leaders in Houston.
Levene described Texas as a “state at risk” and said that securing its remote oil facilities is a “particular challenge.”
“Gas carriers too, whether at sea or in ports, make obvious targets,” said Levene. “Specialists reckon that a terrorist attack on an LNG tanker would have the force of a small nuclear explosion.”
LNG TANKER VULNERABILITIES
Safety fears for fleet of new LNG tankers after leaks are found
A fleet of new ships built for BG and other companies to meet Britain’s growing energy needs by bringing in liquefied natural gas (LNG) from abroad has been hit by leaks and safety scares.
The Methane Kari Elin, which was delivered 18 months ago from a South Korean yard, has been withdrawn from service and is heading back to the far east to try to establish what has gone wrong.
The maritime faults are believed to center around the gas containment tanks inside the hulls of the vessels. There are concerns that there might be a problem with the glue used to secure the inner lining of the tanks. BG last night played down the danger associated with the problem, saying there had been no actual gas escapes, just leaks of nitrogen used to cool the LNG inside the system.
“There was migration in the level of nitrogen but only in the secondary barrier,” said a BG spokesman. “Things point to a construction application rather than a design fault.”
One theory for motive suggests that eco-terrorists could sponsor such an attack for the advantages to be gained by a stock “pump and dump” disaster event arbitrage scheme. The theory states that if a large LNG processor (such as the private LNG companies at the Port of Corpus Christi) suffered a catastrophic attack stock prices would become volatile for such companies.
Intriguingly, David Charles Hawkins (White Rock (South Surrey), British Columbia, Canada) has studied such disaster event arbitrage for more than a decade. Using his experience as a “Cambridge educated forensic economist” who spent 25 years in the oil and gas industry as an explosives expert, Hawkins has been blogging about such events for a decade.
Above: Explosives expert from the oil and gas industry, David Charles Hawkins
Hawkins created the anti-government extremist movement known as ABEL DANGER with his partner Field McConnell (Plum City, Wisconsin – currently held in the sheriff’s office of that community for issuing terroristic threats).
Generally, a terroristic threat “is sufficiently specific where it threatens death or great bodily injury, and a threat is not insufficient simply because it does not communicate a time or precise manner of execution. Thus, a criminal statute prohibiting terroristic threatening serves to criminalize future, as well as present, death threats.”
Both Hawkins and McConnell were well known in the late 2000’s for filing a serious of frivolous lawsuits in North Dakota with over 100 defendants (almost all held political positions). Hawkins joined the anti-government extremist movement “CrowdSource The Truth” after leaving ABEL DANGER. Hawkins is a long time “sidekick” of self-proclaimed “Hollywood film maker” Jason Goodman, the creator of CrowdSource The Truth.
Above: stock price for Cheniere Energy, Inc.
RED CHINA CONNECTION
Some observers fear that anti-government extremists — of the ilk of David Charles Hawkins and Jason Goodman — may be upset by the large LNG gas deal completed by the largest LNG supplier within the Port of Corpus Christi. The deal is rumored to be an $18 Billion, 20 year agreement with Red China.
Cheniere Energy, Inc. is engaged in the development, construction and operation of LNG terminals and marketing of LNG and natural gas. It operates through the LNG terminal and LNG and natural gas marketing segments. The LNG terminal segment comprises of the operational Sabine Pass LNG terminal in western Cameron Parish, Louisiana on the Sabine Pass Channel and the following two other LNG terminals that are in various stages of development.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that as part of a trade deal with the United States, China would buy $18 billion worth of natural gas from Cheniere. Officials from Cheniere visited Beijing in late February, said a third source, who was also familiar with the matter.
Houston liquefied natural gas company Cheniere Energy is expected to sign an $18 billion LNG supply deal with China, two media outlets are reporting.
Cheniere declined to comment but both The Wall Street Journal and S&P Global Platts report that the Houston company is close to signing a long-term LNG supply deal with China’s state-run oil company Sinopec.
The $18 billion deal could be announced as part of a broader US-China trade deal at a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the end of March, the Journal reported.
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To be continued…
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