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Wed 28 Sep 2011 07:37 AM

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Saudi Arabia oil assets ‘immune’ to terror risk

Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal says rising threat of terrorism no worry to kingdom

Saudi Arabia oil assets ‘immune’ to terror risk
Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal said the Arab Spring had bolstered terrorist groups
Saudi Arabia oil assets ‘immune’ to terror risk
offshore oil rig

Saudi Arabia is sure its 35,000-strong security force can
protect the top oil exporter's installations against the rising threat of
terrorist attack in the region, the former chief of Saudi intelligence services
said on Monday.

A wave of unrest rippling across the Arab world this year
has uprooted governments and spread fertile ground for terrorist groups, Saudi
Prince Turki al-Faisal said in a speech at the Royal Elcano Institute in

But Saudi remains confident the billions spent on protecting
its biggest export earner makes its energy infrastructure "immune"
from attack, even as governments from Tunisia and Egypt to neighbouring
al-Qaeda base Yemen are upended all around it.

"With governance in Yemen, Libya, Tunis, Egypt, Syria
and other nations in such tenuous states, the perfect conditions for terrorist
cells to take root and conduct desperate, evil and anarchical acts are
created," he said.

"However, while the general picture of Saudi Arabia's
surroundings is predominated by this great turmoil, at the center of these many
storms sits our Kingdom, which, I am glad to report, remains stable and

Saudi - which is thought to keep some "redundancy"
in its oil export system as insurance against some facilities being disabled - started
building an industrial security force in 2006 after a failed al Qaeda attack on
the world's largest oil processing plant at Abqaiq.

In 2009, around 85 percent of revenues were from oil and a
surge in oil prices in 2011 should boost Saudi oil earnings to $300bn this year
and average around $250bn per year for the next five years, Prince Turki said.

Massive Saudi spending packages announced earlier this year
have so far helped avoid widespread social discontent but have increased the
kingdom's oil revenue needs, analysts say.

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