Cablegate: Azerbaijan's Ritical Energy Infrastructure

DE RUEHKB #0855/01 1901241
P 091241Z JUL 07

Monday, 09 July 2007, 12:41
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 BAKU 000855
EO 12958 DECL: 07/05/2017
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Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Donald Lu per 1.4 (b,d).
1. (C) Summary: Senior BP officils believe that the Sangachal energy terminal and offshore platforms are vulnerable to terrorism. As BP Azerbaijan President Bill Schrader routinely tells U.S. officials, “all it would take is one guy with a mortar or six guys in a boat” to wreak havoc in Azerbaijan’s critical energy infrastructure. Although Azerbaijan has a system and plans in place to deal with security threats at its on- and offshore installations, the GOAJ’s plans are hampered by a lack of resources, a lack of coordination among GOAJ agencies, and a fundamental lack of recognition of the vulnerabilities. The GOAJ is eager for U.S. views on this topic and plans to present its own assessment of critical energy infrastructure security needs at the July 9-10 bilateral security consultations. We strongly recommend that the Department explore options to help Azerbaijan better assess these vulnerabilities, in line with the NATO Riga Summit declaration on energy security. End summary.
BP’S Views on the Vulnerabilities
2. (C) BP, the operator for the Azerbaijan International Operating Company and associated Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Oil Export Pipeline, believes that the Sangachal terminal and Azerbaijan’s off-shore platforms are vulnerable to terrorism. As BP Azerbaijan President Bill Schrader has told U.S. officials in private conversations, “all it would take is one guy with a mortar or six guys in a boat” to wreak havoc in Azerbaijan’s critical energy infrastructure. The Sangachal terminal, a sprawling 800-hectare site roughly 45 km south of Baku, is one of the world’s largest integrated oil and gas terminals, and according to Schrader, the most vulnerable energy installation in Azerbaijan. The terminal -- easily accessible from Azerbaijan’s main north-south highway -- is still expanding and lacks a hard perimeter in the areas under construction. This, coupled with a large volume of trucks and personnel related to the construction and operations make access control and segregation inside the facility a challenge. Schrader said that an attack on the terminal, rather than the pipelines themselves, is his primary security concern, due to the catastrophic nature of the consequences.
3. (C) BP also believes that the off-shore platforms are vulnerable to attack. As Schrader has repeatedly told U.S. officials, “all it takes is six guys hijacking a ship and ramming it into a platform to bring production to a halt for months if not years.” Although commercial and military radars exist to give advance notice of an attack against an offshore production platform, there is no GOAJ or BP means of deterring such an attack. Discussions within the Azerbaijani Navy seem to be focused on pipeline vice platform security. The Navy leadership is focused on solutions to protect the sub-sea pipeline from terrorist attacks and underwater mining. GOAJ response capacity is hampered by a lack of resources and a lack of coordination between the Navy and the Coast Guard, the two GOAJ entities with primary responsibility for protecting the offshore installations.
4. (SBU) Coordination of security and contingency planning responsibility rests with the State Committee to Protect Pipelines, headed by the Prime Minister. The commission includes Representatives from various government entities including the Special State Protection Service (SSPS), Ministry of Defense (MOD) and Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES). The commission has had an emergency action/contingency plan in place since 2002, when it was created with the help of experts from the USG and from private industry. (Note: In December 2002 a pipeline and structures security seminar was held in Baku and included representatives from S/CT, DS ATA, EUCOM, and private
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industry.) The commission holds tabletop exercises/trainings to drill and evaluate their plan on average every six months. The most recent exercises were held in November 2006 and February 2007.
5. (SBU) Responsibility for security at critical energy infrastructure sites is divided by location. Onshore pipelines and associated structures such as the Sangachal Terminal and BTC pumping stations are the responsibility of the SSPS, which is also responsible for the security of the president of Azerbaijan and high-ranking government officials. Offshore structures and pipelines are the responsibility of the Azerbaijani Navy and Coast Guard.
Onshore Facilities
6. (SBU) Along with the pipeline operators, SSPS is responsible for ensuring the security of the various pipelines in Azerbaijan, to include the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC), Western, and Novorossiysk (northern) oil pipelines, as well as the South Caucasus (SCP) gas pipeline and associated structures such as the Sangachal terminal.
7. (SBU) The Sangachal Terminal is located approximately three kilometers from the Caspian coast on a broad valley floor encompassing an estimated 800 hectares of land. The terminal continues to expand as new production platforms come on-line, and will eventually occupy most of the allotted land. Sangachal currently is the primary collection and redistribution point for most of the oil and gas produced off-shore, which accounts for most of Azerbaijani production. All of the major oil and gas pipelines originate in the Sangachal Terminal or the immediate area, making it the single most important structure for the movement and production of oil and gas exports. (The GOAJ and Azersun Holdings have plans to develop a second oil terminal with an initial capacity of 10 million tons at Garadagh, close to Baku. The GOAJ may also develop new commercial port facilities in the same area.)
8. (SBU) The BTC pipeline begins at the Sangachal Terminal and extends through central Azerbaijan, across Georgia and Turkey, to the port of Ceyhan. The Azerbaijani portion of the BTC is approximately 450 kilometers long and includes the Sangachal Terminal and associated pump stations.
9. (SBU) The Western or Supsa pipeline is a Soviet era line that is approximately 460 kilometers long in Azerbaijan and continues on in Georgia to the port of Supsa. The line is parallel to the BTC line for most of its route in Azerbaijan. The SCP gas pipeline generally parallels the BTC to its terminus in Erzurum, forming an energy corridor from Sangachal to the Georgian border.
10. (SBU) The Novorossiysk or northern pipeline runs parallel to the Caspian coastline up to the Russian border and is approximately 240 kilometers long. This pipeline is estimated to move approximately two million tons of oil a year versus the 30-35 million being transported with the BTC.
11. (SBU) Azerbaijan moves a small percentage of its oil, currently as much as 140,000 tons a month at peak use, by rail. This amount is expected to increase significantly as the flow of Caspian oil from Kazakhstan and to a lesser extent Turkmenistan increases as expected. The rail lines originate in the Sangachal area at rail on-load terminals and are transported over existing mixed use rail lines to Georgia. Responsibility for the security of rail transport is believed to lie mainly with the railroad authority.
12. (SBU) SSPS is the prime protector of onshore energy infrastructure and has invested considerable resources to
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ensure the protection of critical structures. SSPS has a annual budget of approximately USD 10 million and over 800 personnel dedicated to pipeline security. Investment by SSPS in training and equipment is expanding each year. Recent investments include the fielding of a Motorola TETRA communications system on the BTC and Novorossiysk corridors as well as the purchase of two helicopters and an additional 20 patrol vehicles. SSPS has nine regional branches to cover the two main pipeline routes (BTC/Western/Erzurum) and Novorossiysk. SSPS is also opening a new 200 hectare training facility near Baku which should give it greater capacity to conduct the training of pipeline protection personnel which average three months of training prior to deployment depending on ability and prior experience. The BTC and SCP pipelines themselves are equipped with state-of-the-art electronic monitoring devices which can detect minute changes in flow pressure associated with hot or cold taps or with losses of pipeline integrity.
13. (SBU) SSPS works closely with the BTC operators (primarily BP) to ensure pipeline security. The routine patrol coverage of the BTC segments located in Azerbaijan has been favorably commented on by BP and by SSPS, who feel that the overlapping of SSPS, BP maintenance patrols and local line minders was working well. SSPS is expanding its vehicle fleet for pipeline protection operations to 100 vehicles and will increase its horse-mounted patrol, used for the most rugged and remote parts of the pipeline, from 30 to 100 in the coming year. SSPS is proud of its record of low or no theft of product in the Azerbaijani segments, as compared to the line tapping problems in Georgia and Turkey, and lack of criminal and/or terrorist activity along the Azerbaijani sections of the pipelines.
14. (C) As noted above, the Sangachal Terminal presents some serious concerns. BP and SSPS work cooperatively to manage access to the facility, with SSPS manning a primary checkpoint on the spur off the main highway at the entry to the terminal area and BP controlling movement within the structure. The terminal is guarded by an SSPS detachment which patrols the perimeter on a 24 hour basis and has a 25 man armed react team on standby. The area is fenced and has CCTV coverage monitored by SSPS and BP. SSPS also has an elevated observation point located on an adjacent mesa, capable of monitoring the entire valley in which the Sangachal facility is located. According to SSPS, the Ministry of Defense has anti-aircraft capability and is responsible for the air defense of the area. Both BP and SSPS report that a number of physical security improvements are planned or underway for the facility to improve the control of vehicles and personnel both on entry to the terminal and within.
15. (SBU) SSPS recently conducted joint contingency training exercises in each of its regional areas with pipeline security elements from the regional offices for the Ministry of National Security (MNS) and the Ministry of Interior (MIA), as well as BP and the local regional administrations through which the pipeline passes.
Offshore Facilities
16. (C) Protection of offshore energy infrastructure facilities is the responsibility of the Azerbaijani Navy and Coast Guard, although there is no clear delineation of responsibilities between the two. Many security and industry sources state that the Navy and Coast Guard take seriously their responsibilities to protect the production platforms and undersea pipelines, but lack resources. The navy maintains a patrol ship on alert on Jiloy Island, but appears to lack the capability to place a vessel continuously on station near the primary production platforms and as such would be unable to prevent or respond quickly to an event on a platform. The Navy currently has radar coverage in the platform areas that is planned to be enhanced by a feed from
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the BP collision avoidance radars. The USG is currently assisting in the refurbishment of five Azerbaijani Coast Guard vessels and upgrades of radars and navigation/communications equipment on five Azerbaijani Navy vessels, which should be completed by next summer and which could increase the GOAJ’s response capacity, although delimitation and communication/coordination issues will remain.
17. (SBU) The USG has trained and equipped an Azerbaijani naval commando unit and continues to hone its skills with follow-on exchanges twice a year. This commando unit has the capability to respond to the platforms with rigid hulled inflatable boats (RHIBS) provided by the USG, but the lack of a mobile platform from which to launch them at or near the platforms severely limits their abilities to respond quickly to an emerging incident. BP maintains a 500 meter restricted zone around the offshore platforms, but if a violator moves into this area the only planned response is to shut down the platform. Currently the only regular patrol near the platforms is the standby boat operated by BP.
18. (SBU) The head of the SSPS, General Akhundov, outlined what he saw as the problem by contrasting the situation in the Caspian with what he saw on a trip last year to Norway. In Norway he saw a Norwegian navy vessel on active patrol around a group of platforms 150 kilometers from shore, and wondered why Azerbaijan could not do the same with the Chirag, Central Azeri, and East and West Azeri platforms. He also expressed concern about the pipelines as they neared the shore at Sangachal. The waters are extremely shallow for the first several kilometers, perhaps as little as five meters. The shallow water coupled with a number of fishing vessels make effective patrol and protection by the coast guard and navy difficult as the lines are readily accessible.
19. (S/NF) The vulnerabilities of Azerbaijan’s critical energy infrastructure -- particularly at the Sangachal energy terminal and the offshore platforms -- are made more acute by Azerbaijan’s location next to Iran and the small, but growing number of indigenous extremist groups with ties to transnational terrorists. Although the January arrest of the “Mahdi Army” which had been working under Iranian instructions to provide information on Azerbaijan’s critical energy infrastructure highlighted some of these issues, we, like BP, believe that the Government of Azerbaijan does not fully recognize the vulnerabilities in its current energy infrastructure security arrangements. We also are concerned by the lack of clear delineation of responsibility for protection of offshore facilities. Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov plans to present a briefing on Azerbaijan’s energy infrastructure security needs at the July 9-10 bilateral security consultations. We view this briefing as an opportunity to begin a dialogue with the GOAJ on this vitally important subject, and strongly urge the Department to explore options to help Azerbaijan better assess these vulnerabilities, in line with the NATO Riga Summit declaration on energy security. LU

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