Now in the First World

Pipelines are the most vulnerable part of the extensive and complex systems the produce, transport, refine and distribute oil and natural gas. They are long, tough to patrol and secure, and easy to attack. It doesn’t take much to put a pipeline out of action, even temporarily, and pipeline attacks have become the way to disrupt oil and gas production in Nigeria, Iraq and Mexico. (I believe there have also been significant pipeline attacks in Ecuador and Colombia as well.) It is a relatively cost effective way for a non-state group to challenge the state and disrupt the local and national (and in the case of Nigeria, global) economy.

This tactic has apparently spread to Canada. If whoever does this is able to maintain the pace, and other groups (for whatever reason) with grievances adopt the practice, it will have very troubling implications:

VANCOUVER — For the sixth time in nine months, and the second time in three days, a bomb has exploded near EnCana’s natural gas pipeline in northeastern British Columbia.

The blast early Saturday morning took place less than a kilometre from where EnCana workers were trying to cap a gas well damaged in an explosion Thursday.

“Our crews were at the wellhead site, where they were working to stop the gas leak,” EnCana spokeswoman Rhona DelFrari said from Calgary.

“Around 2:30 in the morning they heard a loud bang, so they immediately went to the spot where they thought it was and that’s where they discovered the explosion at the pipeline.”

The Mounties are labelling the bombings as domestic terrorism and have flown in a unit of its Integrated National Security Enforcement Team to investigate.

The bombings have all taken place along a 15-to-20-kilometre stretch of the pipeline near Pouce Coupe, just south of Dawson Creek on the B.C.-Alberta border about 1,050 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

The piece does not speculate as to who might be doing this or why.

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