UK energy firm says it is confident power cut was not caused by cyberattack

The power cut knocked out traffic lights and railway signals and brought electric trains to a standstill. (Reuters)
Updated 11 August 2019

UK energy firm says it is confident power cut was not caused by cyberattack

  • The last time the UK national grid suffered an outage of more than one power station at the same time was 2008

LONDON: A power cut that affected a million people and caused travel chaos was not the result of a cyberattack, operators of Britain’s electricity network said on Saturday.

National Grid operations director Duncan Burt said Friday’s blackout was caused when two power stations failed almost simultaneously, leading the system to cut off power to some parts of the country in order to preserve the rest. He said the company was “very confident that there was no malicious intent or cyberattack involved.”

Burt said the loss of two power plants at once was a “very, very rare event” and something similar last happened in 2008.

Tim Green, of the Energy Futures Laboratory at Imperial College London, said failures were at a gas-fired power plant in southern England and a wind farm in the North Sea. He said it was unclear whether the two near-simultaneous outages were connected or it was a coincidence.

Britain’s energy watchdog, Ofgem, said it has asked for “an urgent detailed report from National Grid so we can understand what went wrong and decide what further steps need to be taken. This could include enforcement action.”

The cut hit a large swath of England and Wales, knocking out traffic lights and railway signals and bringing electric-powered trains to a standstill. Electricity was restored within 90 minutes but many travelers were stuck for hours on trains.

Delays and cancelations continued into Saturday at London’s King’s Cross, one of the country’s busiest train stations.

Andrew Adonis, a former chairman of Britain’s National Infrastructure Commission, said National Grid had “some big questions to answer” about how a relatively brief power cut had caused nationwide mayhem on the railways.

“Why ... did their systems allow the national transport system to collapse in the way it did? Because that absolutely shouldn’t happen,” he said.


Oil prices surge after attacks hit Saudi output

Updated 23 min 47 sec ago

Oil prices surge after attacks hit Saudi output

  • The Houthi attacks hit two Aramco sites and effectively shut down six percent of the global oil supply
  • President Donald Trump said Sunday the US was ‘locked and loaded’ to respond to the attacks

HONG KONG: Oil prices saw a record surge Monday after attacks on two Saudi facilities slashed output in the world’s top producer by half, fueling fresh geopolitical fears as Donald Trump blamed Iran and raised the possibility of a military strike on the country.
Brent futures surged $12 in the first few minutes of business — the most in dollar terms since they were launched in 1988 and representing a jump of nearly 20 percent — while WTI jumped more than $8, or 15 percent.
Both contracts pared the gains but were both still more than 10 percent up.
The attack by Tehran-backed Houthi militia in neighboring Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is bogged down in a five-year war, hit two sites owned by state-run giant Aramco and effectively shut down six percent of the global oil supply.
Trump said Sunday the US was “locked and loaded” to respond to the attack, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression.”
Tehran denies the accusations but the news revived fears of a conflict in the tinderbox Middle East after a series of attacks on oil tankers earlier this year that were also blamed on Iran.
“Tensions in the Middle East are rising quickly, meaning this story will continue to reverberate this week even after the knee-jerk panic in oil markets this morning,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.
Trump authorized the release of US supplies from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve, while Aramco said more than half of the five million barrels of production lost will be restored by tomorrow.
But the strikes raise concerns about the security of supplies from the world’s biggest producer.
Oil prices had dropped last week after news that Trump had fired his anti-Iran hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, which was seen as paving the way for an easing of tensions in the region.
“One thing we can say with confidence is that if part of the reason for last week’s fall in oil and improvement in geopolitical risk sentiment was the news of John Bolton’s sacking ... and thoughts this was a precursor to some form of rapprochement between Trump and Iran, then it is no longer valid,” said Ray Attrill at National Australia Bank.