Russian cyber sabotage?
Explosion in the US exacerbates Europe’s gas shortages
06/23/2022, 8:16 p.m
One reason Germany is heading for a gas emergency is an explosion at a Texas facility that supplies US liquefied natural gas to Europe. The terminal is down for months. Does Russia have anything to do with it?
Economics Minister Habeck calls the alarm level for the gas supply, it is becoming more and more likely that the German storage facilities will not be 90 percent full by the beginning of February, as required by law. The main reason for this is of course the reduction in the amount of gas flowing through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 40 percent.
“20 percent less than planned”
But bottlenecks were to be expected shortly beforehand. An explosion at a Texas liquefied natural gas terminal on June 8 is likely to cut scheduled US deliveries through the fall, possibly by the end of the year.
This is a big problem for all of Europe, because the industry information service ICIS according to this, up to 80 percent of Freeport loads went there in March. In April and May, 45 percent of Europe’s liquefied natural gas imports came from the United States. Like the energy expert Claudia Kemfert in the program “Markus Lanz“confirmed that liquefied gas will probably not come from Qatar until 2024, until then deliveries from the USA in particular should fill the gap. “That means 20 percent less than we actually planned.” And that is the reason for the emergency plan, says Kemfert.
Russian cyber attack?
The timing of the accident raises the question of whether it may have been Russian sabotage. Noisy “Washington Examiner” Cyber units of the secret service GRU are said to have carried out targeted reconnaissance operations against Freeport LNG, which is one of the largest exporters of liquid natural gas in the USA, around the beginning of the Ukraine invasion. A source told him that the FBI was investigating the case, writes author Tom Rogan The authorities themselves told him they could neither confirm nor deny this.
Freeport writes in a opinion, gas had escaped from pipes from the storage tanks to the dock facilities and had ignited. The accident was probably due to a fracture as a result of overpressure. Rogan wonders how such an incident could have happened despite the necessary security measures.
Freeport LNG known for glitches
Rogan writes that a Russian cyber entity called Xenotimee may have deployed malware (Triton) that specializes in damaging industrial control systems. Only in March warned the FBI from this malware.
If it was indeed a targeted Russian action, it could be considered an act of war by the US, making the theory quite improbable. Also, it got loud in the Freeport facility EnergyWire had broken down several times before. A security expert called the frequency of the incidents “alarming”. LNG is a monster when it comes to hazards, particularly fire and explosions, safety expert Kay O’Conner told the industry magazine. “It can escalate quickly.”