Oil and Gas Industry Destabilizes As Prices Fall, Experts Note That Security Threats Are Likely To Follow

oilrigcyberMention something about the oil and gas industry to the average American, and they’re likely to comment on how nice it is to see a semi-friendly number at the gas pump these days. But elsewhere — not just in the U.S., but all across the world — there are serious problems plaguing the stability of the entire industry.

As a recent Baker Hughes rig count shows, the number of U.S. oil and gas rigs that are in operation has fallen tremendously; during the fourth week of December, the number of operating rigs fell by 35, from 1,875 to 1,840 remaining rigs. In Canada, the number of operating rigs fell from 256 to 135.

While these numbers don’t indicate the number of rigs that have shut down permanently, it’s still very clear that thousands of industry employees were put out of work within a matter of days. And the reason for so many rig closings, ironically, is the fact that oil and gas prices are so cheap right now.

Unfortunately, fewer employment opportunities isn’t the only problem for the industry.

Karen Boman recently published an article for Rigzone, in which she noted that the biggest threat to the oil and gas industry during 2015 is likely to be the possibility of cyberattacks. Boman states that the oil and gas industry has suffered from quite a few high-profile cybersecurity problems in the past 30 years, especially as Middle Eastern terrorist organizations become more adept at hacking into the systems of major corporations.

Just a few weeks ago, in fact, a cyberattack backed by an Iranian organization hit Mexico’s energy department; according to one cybersecurity firm, that particular Iranian organization has been eyeing about 50 different government agencies and corporations that might possess data that could be useful in future terrorist attacks.

Boman notes that the number of attempted cyberattacks on U.S. businesses and agencies has increased by about 91% since 2013, and the number of successful breaches has increased by 62%.