Oil transit chokepoints

Analysts point to the amplified economic impact any attack on energy distribution networks or facilities launched in the near wake of Katrina would have. The Saudi attack plans described in the previous post may have included such targets.

A South Asia Analysis Group report from last summer pointed out one such potential target: the Straits of Malacca:

"Eric Watkins, an U.S journalist and a specialist on world oil, shipping and security issues has analysed the terrorist threat in the Malacca Straits. In his analysis he states that it is not surprising to note that the Malacca Straits is considered a prime target for terrorists bent on disrupting international commerce and strategic shipping lanes. The Al-qaeda network, actually had video footage of Malaysian police patrols along the Straits of Malacca indicating their potential interest in attacking this waterway.

During the interrogation of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashri of Al-qaeda, an alleged specialist in maritime operations, the group’s ability to attack shipping targets has come to light. The Australian government claims that the terrorists could be planning to attack South East Asia’s shipping lanes including the Malacca Straits with a dirty bomb. A report by the International Maritime Bureau on the extent of piracy and terrorist activity in the area justifies the proposal of the U.S to deploy its forces in the straits."

The narrowest point of the Strait is 1.5 miles -the Phillips Channel. Any disruption would send freight rates up as well.

In August foreign ministers of the three littoral states of Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia met to discuss security issues in the Straits according to the Power and Interest News Report which stated that the situation had become "more urgent following the recent decision by Lloyd's Market Association's Joint War Committee to declare the Malacca Straits an area that is in jeopardy of 'war, strikes, terrorism and related perils.' "

For some basic background info see this on World Oil Transit Point Chokepoints: "Disruption of oil flows through any of these export routes could have a significant impact on world oil prices."

[Sat photo: Malaysian coast and Strait of Malacca]

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