Back

Blogs

Global Chaos as Microsoft Outage Disrupts Critical Services

View All

Case Studies

Securing Cyber-Physical Systems for a Defence Manufacturer

View All

Upcoming Events

LEMA Summit 2024

View All

Webinars

Thoughts

Security of Supply: Energy, Information and War

29th Mar, 2023

In his book On the Psychology of Military Incompetence (1976), Norman Dixon wrote:

“War is primarily concerned with two sorts of activity – the delivering of energy and the communication of information. In war, each side is kept busy turning its wealth into energy which is then delivered free, gratis and for nothing to the other side. Such energy may be muscular, thermal, kinetic or chemical.”

Energy and war have been, and always will be, linked. However, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has brought extra dimensions to this relationship. The weaponisation of energy, mainly gas, has prompted significant market issues relating to price and the security of supply. But it has also introduced additional nuances like meeting existing demand without supporting the hostilities or passing costs through to an increasingly fraught consumer.

Energy’s Crushing Cost

The ‘kinetic’ war is one that most people recognise. Its brutality and destructive power is obvious and clear. We know what it is and what its effects look like. As in previous conflicts, we can appreciate how energy is freely delivered through munitions and combat. Yet, we also see how the availability of energy is constrained to influence opponents’ and their supporters’ resistance. We also fear the risk of conflict spreading uncontrollably beyond the current theatre.

Traditionally, the communication of information in war had been divided between battlefield signals and home front propaganda. The decision on how, when and where to dispose of the ‘kinetic energy’ needs to be based on accurate (or as accurate as possible) and current information. It also helps the war effort if the enemy’s position is hindered in their access to accurate information and/or undermined by inaccurate or misleading information.

Information security in cyber warfare

Our reliance on information has increased in the form of data. The concept of a cyber war now extends to the targeted, proactive disruption of opponents’ and their supporters’ communication and technology control systems. While cyber warfare is not new, the abundance and interaction of shared technology significantly increases the risk of cyber conflict spreading.

In the context of the energy sector, ‘security of supply’ has tended to be interpreted as the consistent and constant delivery of fuel at an affordable price. The kinetic war in Ukraine has reached beyond the battlefield through its impact on gas supplies and prices. With the accompanying cyber war, there is an even greater risk to energy security through both intentional and unintended attacks on energy company data and systems.

Norman Dixon mused that “wars are only possible because the recipients of [kinetic] energy are ill prepared to receive it and convert it into a useful form for their own economy.” He added, “if they could capture and store the energy flung at them by the other side, the recipients of this unsolicited gift would soon be so rich, and the other side so poor, that further warfare would be unnecessary for them and impossible for their opponents.”

Until that day comes, ‘security of supply’ needs to go beyond maintaining the availability of affordable energy, to include protecting all the information associated with its supply.

Authors

Graeme Forbes

Business Development Director (Energy)

Read Bio