Although facilities in the United States have not been subject to major oil spills caused by intentional acts, around the world acts of war and terrorism account for a large fraction of reported major oil spills. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 requires response plans that address a “worst case discharge;” however, the implementing regulatory agencies did not foresee the possibility of deliberate attacks that could involve multiple storage tanks or several pipeline response zones. In addition, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 highlighted the problems with the current U.S. federal response and contingency plans.

The U.S. Coast Guard published a rule that requires operators of marine-transportation-related oil facilities to implement a variety of security measures. Inland facilities and pipelines are generally exempt from the security regulations; nevertheless, those facilities and pipelines can take steps to increase their own security preparedness by emulating the Coast Guard provisions. Homeland Security Presidential Directive HSPD-7, issued on December 17, 2003, identified critical infrastructure sectors and sector-specific agencies to facilitate vulnerability assessments of the sectors. The U.S. Department of Energy is responsible for coordinating the protection of critical infrastructures in the Energy Sector, which includes the production, refining, storage, and distribution of oil.

In this paper, we discuss recent trends in Federal requirements and current provisions for oil industry security planning. We highlight types of major oil facilities that need to consider the possibility of a terrorist attack, as well as recommendations by industry groups. We conclude with suggested areas for industry planning improvement.

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