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article imageU.S. Gulf Coast States May Be Vulnerable to Piracy

By Carol Forsloff     Apr 13, 2009 in Crime
While all eyes are on the Gulf of Aden and the Somali pirates, little is thought about risks in the Gulf of Mexico. Here where pirates once held power, new vulnerabilities occur. This includes oil and gas shipping lanes and drug trade on the Coast.
The Atlantic Monthly not long ago spelled out concerns about the energy delivery routes and vulnerabilities there, that included the Gulf of Mexico. The following is a summary of what was written:
Offshore oil has long been regarded as a great substitute for oil from the Persian Gulf. The Coast Guard may brag that in good weather it could put a vessel beside a threatened platform in the main Gulf of Mexico in eight hours. On the other hand, as noted by the Atlantic monthly,
Only an incompetent saboteur could fail to destroy the platform in eight minutes.
If that information about the time it would take to destroy an energy platform in the Gulf isn't hair-raising a bit, try this from the same publication:
three fourths of the oil extracted in the U.S. comes from four states (Texas, Alaska, Louisiana, and California); that more than half the refinery capacity is in three (Texas, Louisiana, and California); that
three fifths of the petrochemical capacity is in one (Texas); and that five sixths of the interstate natural gas comes from or passes through one (Louisiana)—3.5 percent of this amount being processed by a single plant equivalent in terms of energy output to twenty giant power stations.
This, threat of piracy the magazine resoundingly declared is no Jack Sparrow movie, Pirates of the Carribean. The reality is that the waters of the Gulf of Mexico have risks, enhanced by the critical importance of U.S. Shipping lanes, an area from where oil and gas supplies are transported. Add to that the drug trade on the borders with Mexico, and you have a supply of money that can finance pirate attacks.
An article making conjecture about piracy and the Gulf of Mexico reminds us that the present crisis with the Somali pirates came as a surprise to many but not those mapping piracy attacks across the world. While the Gulf of Mexico isn't labeled a top spot by officials so far, it raises concern among those who examine the waters around the world and the vulnerability experienced by anything from yachts to cargo ships.
When the great Battle of New Orleans took place, General Andrew Jackson made a deal with the famous pirate Jean Lafitte to defend the Port of New Orleans. At that time pirates were rich and influential folk in the Gulf of Mexico. Lafitte helped provide the ammunition and the men in order to fight off the British. That led to Lafitte's full pardon by the United States government for his piracy of those days in 1812 when pirate contracts could help bring protection to the fledgling U.S. Government. The historical pattern of piracy has been part of the history of the Gulf region over the centuries of America's historical development. A new twist might be New Orleans modern vulnerability from the oil and gas it produces. Some say it is also another good reason for adopting alternative sources of energy.
“So pass the rum, me heartys,”might these brand new pirates say. Or perhaps they will speak in the language of the Al Qaeda in tones more ominous than these.
More about Gulf of Mexico, Pirate attacks, New orleans
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