20 April 2006

Offshore oil rigs and the terror threat

Rear Admiral Dan McNeil, commander of Joint Task Force Atlantic told a Halifax audience Wednesday that oil and gas production platforms offshore Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador are possible terrorist targets and that Canadian defence and security forces are developing plans to counter the threat.
McNeil said Ottawa has made preparing for such occurrences its top priority, despite the fact there are no perceived threats facing the nine rigs now sitting off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

The fear is that if terrorists go after the massive structures, they could cause widespread ecological harm, take many lives, and cost businesses and governments millions in damages and lost revenue.
David Harris, a former chief of strategic planning with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) described the offshore production operations as "high value" targets for attack. He told Canadian Press that an attack on offshore production would have devastating economic consequences as well as a significant psychological impact.

JTF 2, Canada's military special forces, have conducted exercises on both the country's east and west coasts related to security threats against offshore rigs.

In 2003, JTF 2 conducted exercises in Halifax and Victoria related to shipping and offshore rigs. For eight days in August 1999, JTF 2 soldiers reportedly conducted an exercise on "a Hibernia oil rig" accompanied by members of Britain's Special Boat Service .