A security expert in Calgary says this week’s shooting attack in Ottawa is a reminder that Alberta’s oil and gas industry makes the province a target-rich environment for would-be extremists.

Paladin Security operations director Tyson Black says the oil industry underpins Canada's economy, making it a natural target for someone intent on attacking the country.

It would be impossible to completely secure all the pumping stations and thousands of kilometres of pipeline running underneath the province, he said.  

The key to protecting such spread-out infrastructure is good intelligence, said Black, whose company guards everything from government buildings to oilsands facilities.

Black’s firm has mobile patrols and video surveillance at many locations, but having a savvy staff is equally important, he said.

“We expect our staff to have a cultural sensitivity, situational awareness, and a global sensitivity to the issues facing us on a daily basis,” he said. 

In 2012, the federal government announced plans for a counterterrorism unit that would be tasked with protecting the energy industry in Alberta from attacks by extremists.

The 32-member team is led by the RCMP and includes officers from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS0, the Edmonton and Calgary police forces, and the Canada Border Services Agency.