Emerging threats to maritime energy infrastructure
A growing share of energy resources – both oil and liquefied natural gas – is produced offshore and transported by sea. This means that countries are increasingly dependent on the security of maritime energy infrastructure, which is vulnerable to a range of well-known risks and threats, including terrorist attacks, piracy and natural disasters. More recently, concerns about the potential consequences of cyber attacks have become more widespread.
NATO and its partners need to maintain its strategic awareness of new risks that could affect the security of energy infrastructure and vital energy supplies. To this end, an expert workshop was organised at NATO Headquarters on 22 October 2015 to examine the latest trends in maritime energy infrastructure security, including protection against cyber threats and information operations.
Participants discussed new threats, trends and developments, particularly in the cyber domain, that affect the security and functioning of critical energy infrastructure, including offshore. They also discussed a scenario involving a cyber attack on an offshore oil rig, analysing the associated risks, vulnerabilities and cascading consequences, as well as response options and mitigation measures.
The workshop concluded that cyber attacks on energy infrastructure could have both civilian and military consequences and that this challenge should be addressed holistically. Enhancing resilience and raising awareness through training and exercises were among the measures identified to mitigate the threat.
The event took place within the framework of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) Informal Working Group on the Protection of Energy Infrastructure, chaired by Azerbaijan and supported by NATO's Emerging Security Challenges Division and NATO's Operations Division. It was organised in the margins of the plenary meeting of the Industrial Resources and Communications Services Group, a Planning Group under Civil Emergency Planning.
The Head of Azerbaijan’s Mission to NATO, Ambassador Khazar Ibrahim, opened the event along with NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Operations Francesca Tardioli and NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges Dr Jamie Shea.
Participants included experts from academia (Baku State University and King's College London), the private sector (Symantec), governmental institutions (the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic, the United States Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania) and NATO’s Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation and the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence.