Terrorist Attacks on Offshore Oilrigs Analysis


Recently, terrorists have turned to oil rigs as their prime targets. The case of Nigeria’s pipeline explosions and offshore oil rig attack demonstrate this latest tactic of terrorists to wreak havoc on people and property. Despite the reducing number of victims involved in such attacks, State security continues to express concern over impending terrorist attacks on the larger oil infrastructure. However, renewed efforts to curb terrorism with improved measures to protect oil rigs suit the latest trend of terrorist attacks as these have turned into their prime targets.


In the past, terrorists have attacked build-up places thereby causing serious harm to people and property. Onshore ore offshore, terrorists’ attack often leaves significant effects. This essay precisely considers the theoretical analysis of the terrorist attack on offshore oil rigs. Based on the city transport as the primary threat, the essay develops a comprehensive assessment of bombing of a subsea completion of oil platform on the transport system.

Offshore oil rigs

Offshore oil rigs comprise fixed or floating structures put up in the ocean to facilitate the process of offshore oil drilling. As such, they house the tools and equipment used by the drilling people and the people as well. These structures play important roles in the process of drilling as they help in the transfer of fuel from the sea to the shore. Since they also form part of the city transport network, any terrorist attack on them would have devastating effects on the shore infrastructure.

Theoretical analysis of terrorist attacks on offshore oilrigs: impact on the city transport network


Why do terrorists target oilrigs

Security personnel guarding oil platforms have leaned those terrorists’ target offshore platforms for three main reasons. These are aerial exposure, marine vulnerability, and lateral accessibility. Aerial exposure refers to the oil rig’s openness to attacks by arms projected to it from the air. Marine vulnerability implies that oil rigs are susceptible to a terrorist attack from submarines and other aids used underwater. Lateral accessibility applies to an oilrigs susceptibility to attacks from enemies who can see either onshore or offshore (Stewart 335).

Methods used by terrorists to launch an attack on oilrigs

As an ordinary person would use oil tankers and ships to transport commodities, terrorists also use such vessels to transport explosives. This poses threats to oil rigs as they may fire the explosives, which include scuds to a platform at little notice. In case such weapons strike an oil rig with workers on site then it would lead to death and rapid-fire destroying the offshore structure. Drillers commonly use subsea pipes and several ships to transport crude oil mined offshore, to the subsea at the shore. When terrorists target these tankers at the subsea, it can result in rapid fierce fire onshore but with a serious of biophysical costs involved (George and Chris 75).

Prime targets of terrorists on oilrigs

Terrorists use various means to launch their attacks on offshore oil platforms. Their tactic include attacks on speed ships used in transporting oil, the connection pipes, and direct smuggling of weapons. Terrorists turned pirates also target security personnel guarding the platforms with the motives of taking them hostages. The terrorist later use them to demand ransom without which they threaten to blast the oil rig. In this respect, the USA risks more than most nations because it has inadequate security personnel in some of its 4000 oil rigs spread along its coast and the Gulf of Mexico (Deffeyes 58).

Discussion and analysis

Offshore oil rigs are complex structures that play very critical roles in the oil and extraction business. At the same time, they cost a lot of money to erect and keep in optimal operation. Owing to the nature of materials contained in the oil rigs, any terrorists’ attack with the possibility to ignite fire would result in serious financial losses. Besides, this would cause a series of effects on the rest of the economy beginning with the transport industry. Assume terrorists attack one of the main oil platforms along its coastline. This would immediately predispose the country to a fuel shortage shortly ((George and Chris 387).

Since the country currently faces growing energy demand and most of its sources derive from oil drilling, any successful attempts by terrorists to attack its offshore platforms would retard the economy by sending shocks of fuel shortages across the country. When people begin to lack petrol for their cars, some people would have to walk to near destinations. However, certain isolated sectors of transport such as air transport and specialized sea vessels may face greater impacts. The US in particular depends a lot on air transport to move its cargo and passengers. Therefore, an acute shortage of fuel resulting from the terrorist attack on its oil rigs is likely to retard or even stall some of its air travels after jet fuel runs out of supply (Covarrubias, Watson and Lansford 55).

The city transport presents high fuel demand. Presently offshore drilling provides the main supplement to this demand with motorists as the main users. Due to the critical role played by city transport in the collection, dispatch, and delivery of goods, logistics firms may have to pull out from business as prolonged fuel shortage causes them to delay their clients. The government may also find its funds diverted to the rebuilding of the destroyed structure and therefore lack money to compensate firms directly involved in the oil business.

In the event that pirates cum terrorists take the platform security officers hostage before blasting an oil rig, the families involved would suffer double the pain. Ultimately, as the price of fuel skyrockets, the families may not even get the remains of their relatives. Nonetheless, the country’s transport sector would only have to depend on fuel import to supplement its domestic requirement. Still then, obtaining this fuel would mean spending more money abroad on an item that was previously available at some affordable rate (Clark 75).

The transport industry directly depends on the oil industry for fuel used in motor vehicles. A major proportion of US energy today depends on oil as the primary source of power. Oil also supports several commercial industries and home-based business infrastructure. Many end-user products also depend on oil for effective production in their manufacturing process.

The oil industry in the US employs approximately 1.5 million people who depend on the business directly. The industry also provides indirect employment to about 10 million other citizens who derive their livelihood from the sale of fuel. Therefore, a series of effects caused by losses from an offshore oil rig would hit hard on US employment rate. In the end, fuel stations would experience increased fuel costs. Sometimes the increased prices may only serve for the first few days. Beyond a certain time, it would prove sustainable to rely on fuel imports at high prices.


Considering the above-mentioned reasons, the country should improve its security on offshore oil rigs by adopting a number of measures. First, it needs to deploy naval and army officers to help in patrolling the landing bay of helicopters when it drops and picks miners on the platform. This would help in scare away terrorists masquerading as pirates. In addition, it would help the security personnel protect the oil rig against marine and lateral attacks from terrorists.

Due to the inadequate number of security personnel with technical skills to protect all the 4000 oil rigs, the state should consider recruiting and training more officers to buffer its security on its offshore platforms. The latest trend of terrorists characterized by the bombing of oil rigs, in Nigeria and a failed attempt to smuggle weapons on Arabian See indicate the recent vulnerability of oil rigs. Studies conducted by independent intelligent officers indicate that US oil platforms stand amongst the most vulnerable in the whole world.

Therefore, the US may save more in the long term by improving the security of the oil rigs now. The security system should incorporate modern equipment for monitoring subsea pipes and floating productions. This would help curb the potential of long-range missiles as well as smuggled scuds. Sometimes terrorists may dare so much that they attack the oil rig even in the presence of security men. Therefore, the government should add another troop that keeps patrol of the platform. Continuous depletion of this exercise would combat both lateral and marine risks on oil rigs.


To ensure the undisrupted flow of the city transport, the government should seriously consider more protection to its oil rigs. Clearly, any successful terrorists’ attack on US oil rigs would destabilize both the country and the rest of the world. Terrorists use different ways and means to strike their targets. Therefore, government training of the concerned officers in marine protection, especially oil rigs should aim at sealing all the potential loops used by the terrorists. Thus, the state has to consider intensified security in the face of growing terrorism uncertainty.

Works Cited

Clark, Robert. Intelligence analysis: A target-centric approach. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2007. Print.

Covarrubias, Jack, Watson, R and Lansford. T. America’s War on Terror. England: Ashgate Publishing. 2009. Print.

Deffeyes, Kenneth Hubbert’s Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001. Print.

George, Roger, and Bruce, James. Analyzing intelligence: Origins, obstacles, and innovations. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press. 2008. Print.

Stewart, Douglas. The brutal seas: organized crime at work. Indiana: Author House. 2006. Print.

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