Counter-terrorism unit to protect Alberta energy industry

Counter-terrorism unit to protect Alberta energy industry by The Canadian Press, June 6, 2012, CBC News
The federal government has set up a counter-terrorism unit in Alberta and one of its main jobs will be to help protect the energy industry from attacks by extremists. The integrated national security enforcement team will be led by the RCMP and include officers from CSIS, the Edmonton and Calgary police forces and federal border patrol. Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud said the key to effectively guarding the labyrinth of oil and natural gas wells, pipelines and refineries in Alberta will be to gather intelligence to prevent attacks before they happen. “When we look at the booming economy of the province of Alberta over the years, one would be led to believe that there is an increased threat to the infrastructure,” Michaud said Wednesday. “We are basically looking at any individuals or groups that pose a threat to critical infrastructure, to our economy, to our safety that is based on either religious, political or ideological goals.”

There are about 400,000 kilometres of provincially regulated energy pipelines criss-crossing Alberta. That does not include federally regulated or smaller distribution pipelines. The Energy Resources Conservation Board estimates there are 176,000 operating oil and natural gas wells dotting Alberta’s landscape. There are also eight oilsands mines, five upgraders and more than 250 in situ oilsands facilities.

The industry says energy infrastructure is critical to Canada’s security. … Alberta has been working for years with the RCMP and the energy industry to better protect critical infrastructure from threats and began developing its own counter-terrorism management plan in 2002. … The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers welcomed Wednesday’s announcement. “Obviously it is important to protect the vital pieces of infrastructure that we have in the province,” association spokesman Travis Davies said from Calgary. “Whether it is oil and gas, wells, pipes, rail, electricity facilities — these are all critical to Canadian security.”

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