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Strategic energy analysis of territory completed

The Arizona based Westmoreland Associates has completed a two-year U.S. Department of Energy Study looking at the threat of long-term energy supply disruption in American Samoa. The more than 300 page study-report — which includes data and newspaper clippings — was prepared for the Territorial Energy Office and funded by a federal grant.

“We examined the threats from natural disasters, threats from accidents, threats from intentional human actions and threats from outside global events such as an interruption in the delivery of petroleum products to the territory,” according to David A. Schaller, the company’s principal investigator in this study, in a communique to Samoa News and included copy of the report titled ‘Addressing the Threat of Long-Term Energy Supply Disruption: A Strategic Energy Assurance Plan (EAP) for American Samoa’.

“The final document represents the most comprehensive strategic energy analysis in American Samoa in several years,” he said.

According to the report, the challenges to American Samoa’s long-term energy security are formidable but not impossible to address. “This EAP will guide the territory in the years to come, leaving it better able to prepare for, respond to and recover from long-term energy supply disruptions and the threat they pose to the social economic and security interests of American Samoa.”

The report outlined 17-key findings for American Samoa and U.S. government decision-makers to address.

Among the important findings pointed out by Schaller is that the existing draft Territorial Emergency Operations Plan (TEOP) does not address the threat of long-term energy supply disruption.

The report notes that American Samoa’s isolated location and its reliance on a single supply of imported fuel for transportation and electric generation means that any long-term  energy supply disruption will have serious negative consequences affecting food security, medical services, communication, potable water and wastewater treatment, land and marine mobility “as well as what the territory has come to enjoy in the way of economic and social security.”

Thus, the draft TEOP “needs to be modified to include consideration of and preparedness for circumstances of long term energy supply disruption,” the report says.

Another important finding are threats which pose the highest risk to the energy infrastructure of American Samoa including natural disasters  — such as tropical storms,  earthquakes and tsunamis; human-caused deliberate or accidental actions; and systemic threats due to events outside the control of ASG.

Events outside of ASG control, for example, are threats due to the limited strategic reserve of petroleum in the event of an interruption of deliveries from the Middle East or the Singapore refineries, said Schaller.

Another finding in the report states that there are multiple, ongoing conditions in American Samoa which, if they continue, will aggravate larger shocks or threats to the energy infrastructure when they occur.

“One well understood example would be current land use practices which already threaten coral reefs, coastal vegetation and beaches thus amplifying the intensity of and damage from extreme weather events, storm sea surges and tsunamis,” the report says.

Another important finding is that a significant opportunity exists to reduce American Samoa’s vulnerability to energy supply disruption through the more efficient use of energy in all forms, particularly energy used in building environments, transportation and water pumping.

In the case of a large, catastrophic disruption to energy supplies or infrastructure, the report found that neither a government nor even a military response alone will be enough without the involvement of the private sector with access to replacement supplies of fuels, transport, supplies and the necessary workforce skills to assist recovery operations.

“Some catastrophic events will exceed the capabilities of ASG and supporting U.S. federal agencies to respond and restore energy services before existing emergency resources are exhausted,” according to another key finding in the report.

Another important finding, according to the report, is that American Samoa “can and should take multiple actions to enhance the resilience of its energy infrastructure including diversification of energy resources, extreme energy efficiency programs, hardening of coastal infrastructure  assets, enactment of stronger building codes, and limitations and restrictions on energy infrastructure construction in vulnerable coastal areas.”

The report also found that “there needs to be a clearly articulated energy security goal for American Samoa — what is to be protected — both structure and function.”

In his letter, Schaller said, the energy infrastructure vulnerabilities identified in the report “pose threats to the well-being of the territory and thus require a more coordinated response from both government and private sector.”

Even if a few of the recommendations contained in the report are realized, the territory can go a long way to reducing its vulnerabilities and strengthening its overall social and economic security, he said.

Samoa News will published in future editions other information from the report,  which was first released last October in draft form.