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Saudi Aramco sees increase in attempted cyber attacks

February 11/2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Aramco has seen an increase in attempted cyber attacks since the final quarter of 2019, which the company has so far successfully countered, the state oil giants chief information security officer told Reuters on Thursday.

The logo of Aramco is seen as security personnel walk before the start of a press conference by Aramco at the Plaza Conference Center in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia November 3, 2019. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed - RC1B88CBEC00
Overall there is definitely an increase in the attempts of (cyber) attacks, and we are very successful in preventing these attacks at the earliest stage possible, Khalid al-Harbi told Reuters in a telephone interview.

The pattern of the (cyber) attacks is cyclical, and we are seeing that the magnitude is increasing, I would suspect that this will continue to be a trend, he said, without giving further details on who was behind the attacks.

Saudi Arabia has been the target of frequent cyber attacks, including the "Shamoon" virus, which cripples computers by wiping their disks and has hit both government ministries and petrochemical firms, the latest of these was in 2017.

Aramco, which pumps 10% of global oil supply, experienced its largest cyber attack to date in August 2012, when a Shamoon virus attack damaged around 30,000 computers and was aimed at stopping oil and gas production at the biggest OPEC exporter.

Aramcos facilities were also attacked in September by drone and missile strikes that temporarily shut down 5.7 million barrels per day of output - more than 5% of global oil supply. The U.S. blamed Iran for the attack, something Iran has denied.

Harbi also said that there had been attempts to infiltrate Aramco via Emotet, a malware that has been active globally, but it was successfully prevented.

The malware has impacted other small organizations in Saudi Arabia, he said, without elaborating.

Harbi said that identifying the source of the cyber attacks was the most difficult aspect of cyber security.

On Tuesday, Aramco CEO, Amin Nasser, said on the sidelines of a cyber security forum in Riyadh that his company puts cyber security among top corporate risks, "at par with market share loss, disruptive technologies, serious industrial accidents and geopolitical shocks."

In 2017, Saudi Arabian security officials said that the country had been targeted as part of a wide-ranging cyber espionage campaign observed against five Middle East nations as well as several countries outside the region.

As MRC informed before, in October 2019, Fitch Ratings downgraded Saudi Aramco's long-term issuer default rating (IDR) to A from A+ following the September 14 drone and missile attack on two key oil facilities that temporarily slashed its output by half.

We remind that in October 2019, McDermott International announced that it had been awarded a contract by Saudi Aramco and Total Raffinage Chimie (Total) for their joint venture (JV) Amiral steam cracker project at Jubail, Saudi Arabia. Amiral is a JV in which Aramco holds 62.5% and Total the rest. The plant, designed to produce 1.5 million metric tons/year (MMt/y) of ethylene, will be one of the world's largest mixed-feed crackers.

Aramco and Total launched their USD5-billion Amiral JV project in October 2018. The steam cracker will be fed with a mixture of 50% ethane and refinery off-gases. It will supply ethylene to a downstream 1 MMt/y polyethylene manufacturing complex and other petrochemical products. The project aims to fully exploit operational synergies with the adjacent refinery, owned by Satorp, another JV between Aramco and Total. Third-party investors, including Daelim and Ineos, will locate plants at the value park adjacent to Amiral with a combined investment of USD4 billion. A final investment decision is expected in 2021.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,093,260 tonnes in 2019, up by 6% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. PE shipments rose from both domestic producers and foreign suppliers. The estimated PP consumption in the Russian market was 1,260,400 tonnes in January-December 2019, up by 4% year on year. Supply of almost all grades of propylene polymers increased, except for statistical copolymers of propylene (PP random copolymers).

Saudi Aramco is an integrated oil and chemicals company, a global leader in hydrocarbon production, refining processes and distribution, as well as one of the largest global oil exporters. It manages proven reserves of crude oil and condensate estimated at 261.1bn barrels, and produces 9.54 million bbl daily. Headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, the company employs over 61,000 staff in 77 countries.


mrcplast.com
Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:PP, PE, crude and gaz condensate, PP random copolymer, propylene, ethylene, petrochemistry, Saudi Aramco, Total Petrochemicals, Russia, Saudi Arabia.
Category:General News
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