September 11 accelerated energy sector woes, says S&P

Last year’s September 11 terrorists attacks that resulted in the destruction of New York's World Trade Center may have accelerated the onset of the US energy sector’s problems, according to a new report by Standard & Poor’s.

The deteriorating credit quality of the energy sector is likely to continue well into next year, the credit rating agency said. Energy traders are seeing “the shrinkage of business”, and some companies may be subject to cash calls if they experience further deterioration, the report warned.

“Although the US economy was already weakening, the tragic events of September 11 gave the economy a final push into a recession and temporarily dampened power demand in the US, particularly in the industrial sector,” said S&P’s New York-based credit analyst Peter Rigby. “Deregulation and industry restructuring had already begun to tarnish the industry’s reputation – although quite unfairly due to unforeseen problems that arose from California’s efforts to introduce competition. The fallout from Enron further complicated matters.”

The terrorist attacks also led to security and insurance concerns for the US energy industry, S&P added. In fact, rising costs of insurance premiums, post-September 11, meant some energy projects were unable to secure insurance. Furthermore, nuclear power reactors were forced to deal with the threat of future terrorist attacks by hiring security personnel and updating security devices – thereby adding to operating costs in an already tough environment.

Terrorist threats against power plants are real, S&P said. Last month, Pakistani police arrested six suspected terrorists alleged to have been planning to attack a thermal power plant owned by US-based AES Corporation.

S&P also said the oil markets, which rebounded from the terrorist attacks, could face tensions in the months ahead if the US, and possibly its allies, invade Iraq.

Only users who have a paid subscription or are part of a corporate subscription are able to print or copy content.

To access these options, along with all other subscription benefits, please contact or view our subscription options here:

You are currently unable to copy this content. Please contact to find out more.

You need to sign in to use this feature. If you don’t have a account, please register for a trial.

Sign in
You are currently on corporate access.

To use this feature you will need an individual account. If you have one already please sign in.

Sign in.

Alternatively you can request an individual account here