The Top-Secret Cold War Plan to Keep Soviet Hands Off Middle Eastern Oil

This article discusses how, following the Second World War and advent of the Cold War, the United States and British governments worked with oil companies to plan ‘denial’ operations should the USSR invade the Middle East. Core to the plan was for combined CIA and military, along with corporate employees, efforts to strategically blow up parts of the refineries such that the Soviets would be unable to take advantage of the oil reserves and thus empower the West to invade and ideally retake the strategic resource.

The efforts were developed and iterated on for almost a decade, though towards the end the focus shifted from the USSR and towards nationalist governments in the region. Moreover, what started as a denial approach transformed into one where oil production would be maintained: the thirst for oil on the part of the United States and Britain meant that turning off the taps could be a serious blow to their economic and military efforts.

These were contingency operations but they were taken seriously. Explosives were moved and put in place and the British even established plans for nuclear assaults to prevent the fields from falling into non-Western hands. It raises the question of whether similar kinds of activities are planned, today, or whether cooler heads now are responsible for establishing contingency plans when it comes to core resources that contemporary Western economies rely upon. And would nuclear or other explosives be used, now, or is this where we would see a first and genuinely far-reaching aspect of hard ‘cyber’ power?

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Did Canadian Oil Companies Get a Tip-Off from CSEC?

The Globe and Mail reports on discussions in the Canadian Senate. Specifically, Liberal Senator Wilfred Moore asked:

“Can the [Senate] leader enlighten this chamber as to what was done with the data obtained by CSEC from the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy?”

Alleging that CSEC’s “cyberhacking” was intended to probe Brazil’s claims about discovering billions of barrels of oil in a new offshore-field find, Mr. Moore noted that no Canadian or U.S. corporations have joined the bidding for drilling rights in an auction that was held earlier this week in Brazil.

This is an incendiary question. If it turns out that Canadian companies didn’t bid because CSEC found Petrobras has overestimated the oil reserves in the Libra field, or if CSEC found that it was going to be harder to extract the oil that stated by the Brazilian government, then it’s a very, very big deal on the basis that the Canadian government (and extension of the department of national defence) would then be engaging in espionage on the behalf of Canadian companies.