Saudi Arabia is spending billions to secure oil industry

Sep 27, 2005 02:00 AM

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia, faced with terror attacks, has boosted annual spending on the protection of its oil industry to as much as $ 1.5 bn, a Saudi oil and security expert said.
"The kingdom is spending between $ 1.2 bn and $ 1.5 bn annually for the protection of its oil facilities," said Nawaf Obaid, managing director of the government consultancy group Saudi National Security Assessment Project. Obaid said "this represents a substantial increase in spending on oil security" compared to before the wave of terror attacks began more than three years ago.

Speaking at a conference on "Gulf oil and gas: ensuring economic security," Obaid said between 25,000 and 30,000 troops from various Saudi security agencies and the army were deployed to ensure that suspected Islamist militants do not attack vital oil installations. He however acknowledged that the weakest link in the security programme remained the 17,850-km pipeline network in the vast desert kingdom.
"Energy security will... be a continuing problem for Saudi Arabia and the world," he said.

Al-Qaeda-linked militants launched a wave of bombings and shootings in the kingdom in May 2001 that has cost the lives of hundreds of civilians, security agents and militants.
Saudi Arabia is the world's largest producer and exporter of oil, with current output hovering around 9.6 mm bpd. The kingdom, which sits on about 25 % of the world's proven oil reserves, is the only producing country that has a spare output capacity of around 1.5 mm bpd.

Source: AFP
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