American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018 - 104

sources, monitor water quality before
and after fracturing the well, and disclose
the chemical composition of the fracture
fluids, media sources say.
Senator Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome,

who carried HB 2056 though the Senate,
notes that the state's drilling regulations
have not been updated since the 1970s,
before many current hydraulic fracturing
techniques were developed.

State lawmakers considered similar legislation in 2017, but failed to resolve differences between House and Senate versions
in a conference committee before the end
of the session, media reports say.
r

Energy Key In Russian Cybermischief
WASHINGTON-A congressional staff
report indicates that Russian cybermischief
includes social media efforts to influence
the debate among Americans about hydraulic fracturing, pipeline projects and
fossil fuel production.
U.S. oil and gas groups, including the
Independent Petroleum Association of
America and the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association,
are pointing to findings in Russian Attempts
to Influence U.S. Domestic Energy Markets
by Exploiting Social Media, a majority
staff report released in early March by
the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science Space and Technology.
Such alleged interference comes in
the context of a mid-March alert by the
Federal Bureau of Investigation and the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
that fingers Russian hackers for cyberattacks on U.S. energy networks. As the
majority staff report notes, that finding
came after prominent Republicans and
Democrats acknowledgement that Russia
secretly funneled tens of millions of
dollars into anti-fracturing activism outside
its borders.
"This report reveals that Russian agents
created and spread propaganda on U.S.
social media platforms in an obvious attempt to influence the U.S. energy market," states Committee Chairman Lamar
Smith, R-Tx. "Russia benefits from stirring up controversy about U.S. energy
production. U.S. energy exports to European countries are increasing, which
means they will have less reason to rely
on Russia for their energy needs. This,
in turn, will reduce Russia's influence
on Europe to Russia's detriment and Europe's benefit. That is why Russian agents
attempted to manipulate Americans' opinions about pipelines, fossil fuels, fracturing
and climate change. The American people
deserve to know if what they see on
social media is the creation of a foreign
power seeking to undermine our domestic
energy policy."
Social Media Campaign
According to the report, the committee
reviewed social media companies' documents for evidence of Russian influence.
"Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were
able to identify Russian accounts linked

to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a
Russian company based in St. Petersburg
established by the Russian government
for the purpose of deceptively using various social and traditional media platforms
to advance Russian propaganda," it states.
"The information received from Twitter,
Facebook and Instagram shows that Russian agents indeed sought to disrupt U.S.
energy markets and influence domestic
energy policy by exploiting American
social media platforms."
The report cites a number of key findings:
* Between 2015 and 2017, an estimated 9,097 Russian posts or tweets discussed U.S. energy policy or a current
energy event on Twitter, Facebook and
Instagram.
* Between 2015 and 2017, IRA operated an estimated 4,334 accounts across
Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
* According to information provided
by Twitter, more than 4 percent of all
IRA tweets were related to energy or environmental issues, a significant portion
of content when compared with the 8
percent of IRA tweets related to the 2016
U.S. election.
* Russia exploited American social
media as part of its concerted effort to
disrupt U.S. energy markets and influence
domestic energy policy.
* The IRA targeted pipelines, fossil
fuels, climate change and other divisive
issues to influence public policy in the
United States.
Although it indicates Russian posts
included content targeting the Sabal Tail,
Keystone XL, Colonial, Bayou Bridge
and Enbridge Line 5 pipelines, the committee report draws special attention to
social media posts about the Dakota
Access Pipeline. Although most of the
IRA DAPL posts voice opposition to the
project, it notes, "several Russian posts
focused on the counter-narrative and
sought to exploit anti-activist sentiment
by propagating content supportive of
pipeline construction efforts, illustrating
once again the Kremlin's indiscriminate
efforts to cause discord and disruption."
Nevertheless, the report indicates,
Russia's intentions for attacking oil and
gas projects and techniques extend beyond conflict for its own sake. Surging

104 THE AMERICAN OIL & GAS REPORTER

U.S. hydrocarbon output threatens Russian energy interests, the report suggests.
"First, an abundance of American supply
in the global energy marketplace stands
to reduce Russian market share and thus
revenues generated from oil and gas
activities," it reasons. "Second, by providing supply alternatives for European
countries dependent on Russian supply
and infrastructure, American energy
stands to disrupt the Kremlin's ability
to leverage energy consumption for
geopolitical influence."
Industry representatives note that infrastructure limitations have forced some
parts of New England to pay 12 times the
going rate for natural gas, and some of
that gas comes from Russia. According to
Energy in Depth, New England imports
20 percent of its natural gas, despite its
proximity to the prolific Marcellus and
Utica plays. "How does the largest natural
gas-producing country in the world wind
up importing liquefied natural gas from
Russia?" EID poses. "The answer is tragically simple: hypocritical energy policies
that prioritize anti-fossil-fuel, 'Keep it in
the Ground' ideology over sound economics,
safety and, yes, even climate change."
Energy Cyberattacks
Meanwhile, the mid-March alert issued
by the FBI and DHS, Russian Government
Cyber Activity Targeting Energy and
Other Critical Infrastructure Sectors,
identifies other ways in which Russia
has used the worldwide web to target
U.S. government entities as well as organizations in the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation and critical manufacturing sectors.
The alert, which can be found at
https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/TA18074A, discusses indicators of compromise
and technical details on the tactics, techniques and procedures Russian government
cyberactors have used to compromise victim networks since at least March 2016.
"DHS and FBI characterize this activity
as a multistage intrusion campaign by
Russian government cyberactors who targeted small commercial facilities' networks
where they staged malware, conducted
spear phishing, and gained remote access
into energy sector networks," the alert
states. "After obtaining access, the Russian


https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/TA18074A

American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018

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