Thursday, January 01, 2004

Security in 2004...

Oil tankers steam away from Alaska: Caution against terrorism comes as safety deadline passes per MSNBC. "Oil tankers began moving out to sea Wednesday away from the port at Valdez, Alaska, as a precaution against a potential terrorist threat, Coast Guard officials told NBC News. Officials stressed that the tankers were moved away from Valdez as a precaution, not as the result of a specific threat. Valdez, the site of the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline Terminal, has been mentioned in intercepted communications between suspected terrorists picked up by U.S. intelligence in the past two weeks, the officials said. About a million barrels of crude oil flow through the pipeline each day, about 17 percent of U.S. domestic oil production." I worked at the unloading terminal in Valdez almost ten years ago. It's an interesting place... the northern-most ice-free port in Alaska - hence, the end of the road for the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline which runs from Prudhoe Bay in the north. The average snowfall in Valdez is 35 feet per year. That's right, 35 FEET. The population in the town is only about 3,000. The nearest other town, by road, is about 90 miles away and is smaller in size. By boat, there's a fishing village about 30 miles away, if memory serves me correct. In all likelihood, the tankers in Valdez pose little security risk. The biggest concern there should be the pipeline which, obviously, can't be moved. Yet there are a lot of open areas between Valdez and Prudhoe Bay in which the pipeline could be sabotaged. It will remain a security risk as it has for the last 25 years. One should note that even though the pipeline has 17 percent of the U.S. domestic oil production flowing through it, it does not account for 17 percent of the U.S. oil consumption... different numbers.

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