The Saudi Systempunkt and the Vulnerability of the Oil Supply Revisited

In one of the early posts back at TOD 1.0, I blogged a piece by John Robb over at Global Guerrillas on the lack of security with regard to oil supply in Saudi Arabia and around the world.  John Robb had said in his entry:
"The defense of energy infrastructure against well orchestrated systems sabotage will continue to be ineffective. Even if plans for sensor grids, UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) patrols, and dedicated guards are fully realized, it will likely prove insufficient to stop ongoing sabotage. These defensive systems are extremely vulnerable to feints (false attacks) and counter-measures. Additionally, the very essence of systems sabotage works against effective defense."{...}"The only method demonstrated to work reliably over the last several years is rapid repair. This capability can contain the economic damage and societal dislocation caused by induced infrastructure failures to 20-30% of its potential. Unfortunately, global guerrillas are finding ways to trump this capability"
In response to that post, I said:
My response to this notion is this: I would have to say the flat or declining supply/ever-increasing demand of the oil curve at present (and forever into the future) only puts power into the hands of ANYONE who can disrupt the flow...and that's why I think, if this continues or accelerates (which it seems that we couldn't stop if we tried without serious investment of resources...), the effects of peak oil will be even more devastating than many are expecting.

Geopolitically, that means the US will be like a crackwhore and the oil supplying countries and the terrorists will both be our pimps and dealers...unless we reduce dependency as soon as possible...

Dystopic? Yes...but we cannot protect the supply's that simple. (it really does sound like the plot of Frank Herbert's Dune doesn't it?). To do so is going to raise the cost of oil even more, to a point of ridiculousness.

Well now John Robb has put together a further analysis of Saudi Arabia's security system, here.  A sample:

The bulk of Saudi Arabia's security system is allocated to the defense of oil system assets. Despite this effort, the system remains extremely vulnerable. The reason for this vulnerability is due to the effectiveness of new methods of warfare being developed in Iraq. A dictum from the newly emerging global guerrilla doctrine is: Avoid direct attacks on highly defended assets. Attack the target indirectly through adjacent systems.

Today's disruption (one of several of this type over the last year) of Iraq's oil terminal in Basra demonstrates how this is done.

May you live in interesting times.  

(John also has a piece that he put together on his suspicions about disruptions in Saudi Arabia last summer that was also interesting).

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Not only rapid repair. The other thing that works is decentralisation. It's easy to disrupt an energy system that depends on central generation, but not one that has solar panels on every rooftop. Think internet.
Wind.  Think Wind.


Silent E

Fell asleep with the TV on.
Woke up in middle of night and spotted Matthew Simmons being interviewed on CNN.
Is this something new?

What - falling asleep in front of the TV?  No, that happens all the time - nothing new there.

Dunno about the piece on CNN though.  Haven't seen it myself.

Frankly, I wasn't fully awake.
But here is someone who timed it: 30 seconds.

The public does not need more than 30 secs at 12 midnight to understand PO.

Sanity is confirmed (temporarily).
It was not a dream:

[bolding is mine]

DOBBS: A provocative new book suggests today skyrocketing crude oil prices may only hint at the real oil crisis yet to come. Saudi Arabia has long claimed the oil fields could meet the world's insatiable demand for oil, but according to my next guest, Matthew Simmons the author of "Twilight in the Desert," the Saudis aren't being truthful. After poring over more than 200 engineering papers, he says Saudi Arabia's giant oil fields are getting old and oil supplies are running out.

This is a huge development if you're absolutely accurate. What will be the impact?

MATTHEW SIMMONS, AUTHOR: Well, the biggest impact, whether the supply's going to decline or whether they stay where they are or a while, or whether they even grow slightly, is that the world built an economy on a presumption that Saudi Arabia's oil could grow to almost indefinite amounts and stay there for years at almost no cost. And the likelihood of that happening is very small.

DOBBS: Saudi Arabia, as you well know, better than certainly most, has 25 percent of the world's official reserves. Do you really believe that those are going to be threatened here both by depletion and by rising consumption?

SIMMONS: Well, first all, even the amount of reserves is a matter of some question. Back at the end of 1979, when the -- some of the top technicians in the world were counting proven reserves, they thought they had 110 billion, and then the number rose to 260 billion eight years later without discovering anymore fields. But the real issue is only a handful of fields have produced all the oil Saudi Arabia has ever produced. And they're all old. And they're all at risk of production collapse.

DOBBS: Bottom line, is the United States, in your judgment, prepared for the oil shock that you foresee so clearly?

SIMMONS: No. I don't think the U.S. is. I don't think the world is.

I think we have blissfully just assumed the Middle East had effectively boundless amount of oil, it could be produced at almost -- at the lowest achievable cost as long as there was stability in the Middle East.

DOBBS: What should we do?

SIMMONS: We need to start preparing for the fact that in all likelihood oil supply is reaching sustainable peak supply on a global basis and start radically preparing a different economy that is less oil intensive in its use, because we're not going to have anymore.

DOBBS: The book "Twilight in the Desert." Matthew Simmons, thanks for being here.

Turning now to the results of our poll. 94 percent of you say the president of the United States should be speaking to large open groups as opposed to small captive audiences when ever possible.

Still ahead here, we'll take a look ahead at tomorrow's broadcast. Stay with us.


"Turning now to the results of our poll. 94 percent of you say the president of the United States should be speaking to large open groups as opposed to small captive audiences when ever possible."

This is great commentary regarding how close we are to facing reality.

Open discussion is out of the question. Someone might scream out a question about Cindy and Peak Oil: "Mr. President! Are you and Cindy going to meet to discuss Crude and Casey?" (Thank goodness freedoom is on the march.)
RE: Saudi oil supply and security, we have a couple interesting posts on Winds of Change.NET you might be interested in:

  • Have the Saudis Hit Peak Oil? offers a somewhat chilling assessment from someone with real credentials. That's the bad news.

  • Oil Infrastructure: The Next Terror Target? directly addresses articles from Global Guerillas and Gal Luft of The bottom line: yes, it is the next target. But no, not in Saudi Arabia. I explain why not. And if you want to know where to look for this kind of threat... read the article.
dude, we don't mind a little blogwhoring now and again, but don't do it anonymously.  Yeesh.  That's just poor.
That's a neat sound bite, "blogwhoring". Is there a web site that compiles definitions of blog-speak words and rules of blog-etiquite? (I'm still a newbie to the blog world --can barely speak HTML.) Thanks.
SB, not really.  I picked it up from somewhere, but I've no idea where...