The Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned the Texas oil industry of potential attacks by Al Qaeda on pipelines and refineries near the time of the November presidential election, although it added that the information it had received was uncorroborated.
An advisory sent to oil companies by the F.B.I. Houston Joint Terrorism Task Force said the information spoke of an effort to influence the outcome of the election, but that there were no details about an exact location or date for any attack.
Oil companies suggested that they had done all they could to be prepared for any attacks.
A spokeswoman for BP Texas City, Marti Snyder, said the company had received “quiet a few” similar advisories in the past two years, and added that BP’s vigilance had been strong since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“We never step down,” she said.
A similar view was expressed by a spokeswoman for Exxon Mobil, Prem Nair.
“Security is an ongoing activity at all of our facilities,” she said, “from production facilities to large petrochemical and refining complexes, to office buildings and computer systems, to transportation systems.”
She added, “We have implemented security programs based on a proven, structured risk assessment methodology and we comply with relevant laws and regulations affecting security in areas where we operate and work closely with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.”
A large number of refineries and chemical plants are grouped along the Ship Canal, a man-made waterway that runs from Galveston Bay to Houston, making it a tempting target for any terrorist group. Ms. Synder described it as possibly one of the largest industrial complexes in the United States.
An F.B.I. spokesman in Houston, Bob Doguim, said by telephone that although “maybe too much is being made of this, nonetheless it’s the responsible thing for us to to.”
He added: “We have raw and unconfirmed information, but the information was specific in that it talked about Texas and oil refineries. We’re talking about single-source information, but the respsonsible thing is to share this information with people who might be affected, including oil and petrochemical companies, and also law enforcement.”
A spokesman for the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, a trade group, added his own note of caution about the advisory, although he said it was potentially a serious matter, “and we are taking it seriously.”
“What are going to do differently?” the spokesman, Maurice McBride, asked. “Not much really. Oil plants in the area are already acting as if they are at an orange alert level, while the country is at yellow,” one level lower.