Global power industry faces threats from ‘daily’ cyberattacks, warns GE

The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team has accused the Russian government of a ‘multi-stage intrusion campaign’ targeting the US energy grid. (Shutterstock)
Updated 13 June 2018
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Global power industry faces threats from ‘daily’ cyberattacks, warns GE

  • GE’s Justin Eggart: “There are some bad actors out there. We talk to customers every day and it is the fastest growing threat.”
  • Justin Eggart sees lots of opportunities in the Kingdom as it works to diversify the economy away from oil dependence under the Vision 2030 strategy.

ATLANTA: Daily cyberattacks on power plants around the world are one of the biggest issues the global energy industry faces, according to senior executives of General Electric, the giant US engineering conglomerate.
“There have been attempted attacks at virtually every customer site in the world,” said Justin Eggart general manager of GE’s thermal power division based in Atlanta, Georgia.
“There are some bad actors out there. We talk to customers every day and it is the fastest growing threat. We’ve never had a successful cyberattack on our operations here (in Atlanta), but some of our customers around the world have been impacted,” he said.
Christopher Held, engineering manager at the GE monitoring and diagnostics (M&D) center in the city, added: “We see people trying to hack in every day but they have never succeeded. It is something we take very seriously and have a big team working on it.” He added that attacks came from several countries, including Russia and China.
The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team in March accused the Russian government of a “multi-stage intrusion campaign” targeting the US energy grid with a campaign of cyberattacks stretching back at least two years.
GE is one of Saudi Arabia’s longest-standing industrial partners; there is a unit of the company’s M&D operation in Damman, opening in partnership with Saudi Electricity Company. GE also works with Saudi Aramco in industrial power generation.
Eggart said that he saw lots of opportunities in the Kingdom as it worked to diversify the economy away from oil dependence under the Vision 2030 strategy. “As the economy develops that will change the nature of power production and consumption, and we can help with that,” he said.
The Atlanta operation monitors the global power generation network GE runs around the world, as well as selling monitoring services to other manufacturers of power generation equipment, overseeing 946 plants in 76 countries.
Held said that the center processed one million pieces of information per second, and that there were about 60,000 alerts per year. Some 180 “major events” involving a total stoppage of power and costly damage to generating equipment were prevented last year, he said
M&D is one of GE’s fastest growing business streams, with 30 to 40 percent increases witnessed since 2016, similar growth rates projected in the coming years Eggart said that the power industry was facing “significant challenges” in addition to cyber threats, including the transition to renewable technology, lack of infrastructure in some parts of the world, and the need for new investment in aging plants and distribution grids.
He also criticized tariffs on imported steel and aluminum introduced by the Trump administration, noting that the move was driving up costs across GE’s business.
“We’re not supportive of tariffs, and would rather support free trade. Tariffs raise the cost of manufacture and we would rather not see them,” he said.


Aramco boosts oil export capacity from the west

Updated 15 min 50 sec ago
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Aramco boosts oil export capacity from the west

  • Move will allow Yanbu to handle extra 3 million barrels daily
  • Exports crude from oilfields in the east of the Kingdom

LONDON: Saudi Aramco has completed a major upgrade of its port at Yanbu that will allow it to handle an extra 3 million barrels per day of crude oil.
It comes amid a global supply crunch that has led to calls for increased output from Middle East oil exporters such as Saudi Arabia.
The terminal, which is located south of Yanbu on the west coast, consists of a tank farm and offshore facilities to receive, store and load Arabian Light and Arabian Super Light Crude.
“The successful startup of the Yanbu South Terminal is another milestone in reinforcing Saudi Aramco’s goal to be the world’s leading integrated energy and chemicals producer,” said Abdullah Al-Mansour, executive head of pipelines, distribution and terminals at Saudi Aramco.
Yanbu is one of Saudi Arabia’s key petroleum shipping terminals and the country’s second port after Jeddah, located about 300 kilometers to the south. Crude flows from oilfields in the east of the country through pipelines that terminate in Yanbu, before being loaded onto supertankers and being transported around the world.
OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo on Tuesday urged oil companies to increase capacity and boost investment as spare oil capacity shrinks worldwide.
The global oil sector needs about $11 trillion in investment to meet future oil needs in the period up to 2040, Barkindo said.
Earlier this week Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said that the Kingdom was the world’s energy “shock absorber” and pledged to continue to offer a cushion to global supply interruptions.
His remarks coincided with mounting concerns among energy-importing nations about the recent rise in the oil price and increased pressure from the US for the Kingdom to boost production.
“We could have another unanticipated, unplanned disruption. We’ve seen Libya, we’ve seen Nigeria, we’ve seen Venezuela and we have sanctions on Iran. These supply disruptions need a shock absorber,” Al-Falih told the CERAWeek event by IHS Markit.
“The shock absorber has been, to a large part, Saudi Arabia. We have invested tens of billions of dollars to build the spare capacity which has been two to three million barrels over the years.”