Connecting The Many Undersea Cut Cable Dots

by Richard Sauder

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

4 February 2008

The last week has seen a spate of unexplained, cut,  undersea communications cables that has severely disrupted communications in many countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. As I shall show, the total numbers of cut cables remain in question, but likely number as many as eight, and maybe nine or more.

The trouble began on 30 January 2008 with CNN reports that two cables were  cut off the Egyptian Mediterranean coast, initially severely disrupting Internet and telephone traffic from Egypt to India and many points in between. According to CNN the two cut cables “account for as much as three-quarters of the international communications between Europe and the Middle East.“ CNN reported that the two cut cables off the Egyptian coast were “FLAG Telecom’s FLAG Europe-Asia cable and SeaMeWe-4, a cable owned by a consortium of more than a dozen telecommunications companies”.(10) Other reports placed one of the cut cables, SeaMeWe-4, off the coast of France, near Marseille.(9)(12) However, many news organizations reported two cables cut off the Egyptian coast, including the SeaMeWe-4 cable connecting Europe with the Middle East.  The possibilities are thus three, based on the reporting in the news media: 1) the SeaMeWe-4 cable was cut off the coast of France, and mistakenly reported as being cut off the coast of Egypt, because it runs from France to Egypt; 2) the SeaMeWe-4 cable was cut off the Egyptian coast and mistakenly reported as being cut off the coast of France, because it runs from France to Egypt; or  3) the SeaMeWe-4 cable was cut both off the Egyptian and the French coasts, nearly simultaneously, leading to confusion in the reporting. I am not sure what to think, because most reports, such as this one from the International Herald Tribune, refer to two cut cables off the Egyptian coast, one of the two being the SeaMeWe4 cable,(11) while other reports also refer to a cut cable off the coast of France.(9)(12)  It thus appears that the same cable may have suffered two cuts, both off the French and the Egyptian coasts. So there were likely actually three undersea cables cut in the Mediterranean on 30 January 2008.

In the case of the cables cut off the Egyptian coast, the news media initially advanced the explanation that the cables had been cut by ships’ anchors.(10)(13) But on 3 February the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said that a review of video footage of the coastal waters where the two cables passed revealed that the area had been devoid of ship traffic for the 12 hours preceding and the 12 hours following the time of the cable cuts.(5)(11) So the cable cuts cannot have been caused by ship anchors, in view of the fact that there were no ships there.

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Update: Ships did not cause Internet cable damage

CAIRO – Damage to undersea Internet cables in the Mediterranean that hit business across the Middle East and South Asia was not caused by ships, Egypt’s communications ministry said on Sunday, ruling out earlier reports.
The transport ministry added that footage recorded by onshore video cameras of the location of the cables showed no maritime traffic in the area when the cables were damaged.

‘The ministry’s maritime transport committee reviewed footage covering the period of 12 hours before and 12 hours after the cables were cut and no ships sailed the area,’ a statement said.
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Chevron 4th-Quarter Profit Rises on Record Oil Prices

Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) — Chevron Corp., the second-largest U.S. oil company, said fourth-quarter profit rose 29 percent as crude prices climbed to a record on their way to topping $100 a barrel last month.

Net income increased to $4.88 billion, or $2.32 a share, from $3.77 billion, or $1.74, a year earlier, San Ramon, California-based Chevron said today in a statement. The company was expected to earn $2.29 a share, the average of 17 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Chevron had its biggest fourth-quarter profit gain in three years as global crude demand expanded faster than output from new wells. Chief Executive Officer David O’Reilly plans to spend almost $50 million a day on the search for untapped reserves this year, a 31 percent increase from 2007.

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ExxonMobil posts record 40.6-bln-dlr profit in 2007

ExxonMobil reported Friday the largest US corporate annual profit in history at 40.6 billion dollars, benefiting from surging crude oil prices on strong demand, particularly in China and India.

The net profit was three percent higher than a year ago when the biggest US oil and gas firm reported a 2006 annual profit of 39.5 billion dollars, which had prompted ire over US policies said to favor big oil firms.

The multinational behemoth also posted a record fourth-quarter net profit, at 11.6 billion dollars, up 14 percent from the same period in 2006 as gains in crude.

Fourth-quarter profit per share rose to 2.13 dollars, beating analysts’ forecasts of 1.95 dollars.

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Shell’s record profits branded ‘obscene’

  • guardian.co.uk,
  • Thursday January 31 2008
  • Shell petrol pump

    Shell petrol pump. Photograph: David Sillitoe

    Shell was today accused of making “obscene” profits at a time when pensioners, motorists and industry are struggling with higher energy prices when it unveiled annual earnings of $27.6bn (£13.9bn).

    The oil major has made British corporate history with the record figures, which are equivalent to more than £1.5m an hour and come at the end of a three month period when crude prices have averaged over $90 a barrel.

    Jeroen van der Veer, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, described the performance as “satisfactory” and admitted that overall production for the year had actually dropped 2%.

    He said the company had benefited from launching new oil and gas projects but had suffered in the last quarter from weak refining margins.

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    WH e-mails missing on key days in court battle over Cheney’s energy task force

    Although the Supreme Court eventually sided with the White House in its quest to keep secret the proceedings of Dick Cheney’s energy task force, a new report released this weekend shows some dates on which staff members in the vice president’s office allegedly destroyed internal communications correlate with court decisions regarding the task force.Historical archives of White House e-mails are missing for at least 473 days of Bush’s presidency. A report compiled this weekend by a group suing the administration shows Cheney’s underlings apparently deleted their e-mails on days that the courts contradicted their quests to keep internal proceedings private.

    On Sept. 11, 2003, a federal appeals court rejected the administration’s argument that Cheney’s Energy Task Force documents should remain secret. The next day, records show there are missing e-mails from Cheney’s office, according to the report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

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