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Cablegate: Critical Infrastructure Protection in Saudi

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OO RUEHDE RUEHDIR
DE RUEHRH #1298/01 2381323
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O 251323Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY RIYADH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9049
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH IMMEDIATE 9709
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RUEHRH/CHUSMTM RIYADH SA IMMEDIATE
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RHRMAKS/COMUSNAVCENT IMMEDIATE
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE 0245
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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 RIYADH 001298

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2018
TAGS: PREL KCIP ENRG EPET PGOV PTER ASEC SA
SUBJECT: CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION IN SAUDI
ARABIA: UPDATE FOLLOWING INITIAL ASSESSMENT

REF: RIYADH 01252

Classified By: Political Counselor Horacio Ureta for reasons 1.4 (B) an
d (D).

1. (S) Summary: The USG's first assessment for Saudi
Arabia's Abqaiq oil facility was completed on August 19. It
was a success in that it established the basis for our
working relationship under the auspices of the Joint
Commission on Infrastructure and Border Security Protection
(CIP). Following the initial vulnerability assessment
conducted at Abqaiq (Ref A), members of the assessment team
provided Post's primary working-level Ministry of Interior
(MOI) contact Dr. Khalid al-Ageel with several interim
findings. Al-Ageel revealed details on some of MOI's
uneasiness with Saudi Aramco's security practices, and he
explained MOI's plan to ensure Saudi Aramco enacts the
recommendations that flow from vulnerability assessments
conducted as part of the CIP program. End summary.

-------------------------------------
Saudi Review Process for Assessments
-------------------------------------

2. (S) On August 20, MOI's al-Ageel met Deputy Assistant
Secretary of Energy William Bryan, members of the assessment
team, and Econ Off informally to discuss the team's
preliminary findings and to convey how the Saudi government
wanted to handle the results. Al-Ageel asked the team to
prepare an executive summary for Assistant Minister of
Interior HRH Prince Muhammad bin Naif. Al-Ageel noted that
Prince Muhammad bin Nayif and his aide, Dr. Sa'ad al-Jabri,
expressed keen interest in the team's progress during the
assessment. To ensure Saudi Aramco carried out all the
recommendations of this and any other assessments, MOI's
Higher Commission for Industrial Security (HCIS) would first
review the final assessment report. Prince Muhammad, and
possibly the Interior Minister HRH Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz,
would approve the assessment and then forward the document to
the Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals (MINPET). Al-Ageel
did not want Saudi Aramco to have the chance to influence or
to change the assessment conclusions during the approval
process. After the two ministries approved the document,
MINPET would inform the highest levels of Saudi Aramco, and
MOI would advise the Facilities Security Force (FSF)
commander. Al-Ageel said the official review process would
take no more than two weeks. He added that neither MOI nor
MINPET would argue about formal CIP recommendations, but if
MINTPET had a concern or objection, the matter might have to
be decided by the king himself.

------------------------------------
Continuing MOI-Saudi Aramco Friction
------------------------------------

3. (S) Al-Ageel described how he was kept well-informed about
Saudi Aramco's support to the first assessment team's work.
Dammam-based MOI/HCIS officer Captain Adel al-Utaybi called
al-Ageel when Eastern Region Aramco Security Director Samir
Raslan placed limits on the level of cooperation from his
subordinates. Al-Ageel received the same information from
one of the team's primary Abqaiq counterparts, Adel al-Saad,
who is Raslan's subordinate. Al-Ageel intended to report
Raslan's unhelpful attitude to Prince Muhammad. (Note: MOI
has a role in approving Saudi Aramco's selection of personnel
for critical security posts, such as those at Abqaiq, and in
this way al-Ageel says he retains his own, unilateral links
to important security personnel in Aramco.)

4. (S) Beyond the bureaucratic problems, al-Ageel said Prince
Muhammad was very concerned about the possibility of
terrorists gathering details about the vulnerabilities of
this and other critical facilities. He recalled how Saudi
Aramco's President Abdullah Jum'ah was convinced terrorists
had detailed information about Abqaiq's critical nodes prior
to the 2006 attack, when the attackers sought to sever the
Shaybah-Abqaiq pipeline. Since the attack, Saudi Aramco has
been under orders to report any problems at Abqaiq, however
slight, to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Sa'ud. This close
attention to the plant means MOI is under intense pressure
from the senior Saudi royals to improve security at the
company's important facilities.

---------------------------------
Provisional Assessment Highlights
---------------------------------

5. (S) Representatives of the assessment team advised
al-Ageel that the final analytical product would be complete
in six to eight weeks (approximately mid-October). Including
the two weeks al-Ageel said MOI and MINPET needed to gain
Saudi government approval for the release of the report, the
team estimated the report could be formally presented to the
CIP Commission in late October. Al-Ageel told us this was a
good time frame. The team reported Abqaiq security personnel
had a good security culture, and after some initial
Aramco-imposed restrictions, the assessment team had open and
repeated access to all key parts of the plant. Al-Ageel
asked about the new vehicle fence Saudi Aramco was building
at the plant. After the team provided some positive remarks
about the barrier, he mentioned that MOI did not like the way
Saudi Aramco installed it without in-country testing and
without MOI's approval. The team offered to provide new
testing information on the vehicle barrier. (Note: Post
will pass this to MOI for release to Saudi Aramco.) Notably,
the team thought the FSF performed well during a test of
response time for the detection of intruders approaching the
facility's outer perimeter. FSF patrols outside the facility
were active and their equipment appeared to be adequate. The
security force's gate procedures also appeared sound, if
unevenly enforced. The team noted the Quick Reaction Force
(QRF) lacked armored vehicles and night vision equipment.
The Abqaiq QRF consisted of two groups of 12 men from MOI's
Special Security Force, although the Abqaiq unit was under
the operational control of the FSF unit based at the plant;
the team believed MOI should consider addressing this
organizational anomaly by having FSF establish its own QRF.

6. (S) Comment: This is CIP's first success. The assessment
provided useful information that, in the end, will help
improve the security of Saudi Arabia's most critical oil
facility. MOI officials are being candid about their
concerns over Saudi Aramco's security procedures, and more
importantly MOI is eager to hear and accept USG
recommendations. The assessment also provided valuable
information for our effort to improve the FSF as an integral
part of CIP's mandate. We will continue to work with
al-Ageel and other MOI interlocutors to move this program
forward. The next step is to establish appropriate dates for
the first meeting of the CIP Commission here in Riyadh. End
comment.
PAIGE

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