Ottawa shooting: Alberta's oil and gas assets natural target for extremists, security expert says

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.

Intelligence seen as key, since fully protecting oil and gas facilities not possible

The RCMP says the key to effectively guarding the labyrinth of oil and natural gas wells, pipelines and refineries in Alberta, including Suncor's oilsands project, above, is to gather intelligence to prevent attacks before they happen. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

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.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.