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Issue Brief

Dec 6, 2021

Cybersecurity concerns for the energy sector in the maritime domain

By Andy Bochman, Ian Ralby

As a wide spectrum of energy companies continue to rely on the maritime domain or even increase that reliance, they must be mindful that traditional maritime threats—like piracy, theft, and weather events—are not the only threats they face today. Maritime cybersecurity concerns are among the most potentially disruptive to energy-sector interests, and yet are among the least understood and addressed.

Cybersecurity Energy Transitions


Mar 14, 2021

The United Nations Security Council needs to authorize military action to prevent the spill of the FSO SAFER

By Dr. Ian Ralby, Rohini Ralby, and Dr. David Soud

The FSO SAFER and the five miles of subsea pipeline to which it is attached threaten to pour 2.14 million barrels of oil into the Red Sea. Between Yemen’s reliance on food shipments to stem a widespread famine, and the wider region’s reliance on desalination plants for drinking water, realistic estimates put the potential death toll from the spill in the millions.

Energy & Environment Geopolitics & Energy Security


May 16, 2020

Downstream oil theft: Countermeasures and good practices

By Dr. David Soud with contributing authors Dr. Ian Ralby and Rohini Ralby

Downstream oil theft has become a global problem. Since most of the world’s energy systems still rely on oil, fuel smugglers are nearly always able to find markets for their goods. Moreover, as oil is not inherently illegal, it is generally an easy product to move, buy, and sell. Profits from oil theft are frequently used to fund terrorism and other illegal activities.

Energy & Environment Energy Markets & Governance

Dr. Ian Ralby is a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center. He has been the lead author on the Atlantic Council’s groundbreaking work on “Downstream Oil Theft,” and together with his team at I.R. Consilium, has explored effective measures for shining a light on the “invisible supply chain.”

Ralby is a recognized expert in maritime security, international law, hydrocarbons crimes, private security oversight and countering transnational crime. He works closely with governments and international organizations on maritime law and security issues around the world, leading a number of initiatives on addressing evolving and emerging threats in the maritime domain. He also frequently works on energy-related matters, both on land and offshore, particularly with regard to hydrocarbons theft and criminal or terrorist involvement in oil and gas supply chains.

From strategic protection of offshore oil and gas infrastructure to human rights concerns regarding the use of private security companies by the extractive industry to approaches to interdicting the theft, smuggling, adulteration, and illicit refining of oil, Ralby has addressed a wide range of energy issues for government and private clients. Examples of his work include advising on or drafting energy security and critical national infrastructure strategy, legislation and policy for sovereign states; advising on approaches to countering fuel smuggling and fraud; drafting national and international accountability instruments for private security oversight; advising companies on legal considerations for protection of oil and gas infrastructure or supply chains; and, most notably, the in-depth investigation into global oil theft that has led to a series of seminal publications with the Atlantic Council.

In addition to his work with the Atlantic Council, Ralby is CEO of I.R. Consilium; a Maritime Crime Expert for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Global Maritime Crime Programme; and a key opinion former on maritime security at NATO. He previously spent four years as is an adjunct professor of maritime law and security at the United States Department of Defense’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies. He writes and speaks frequently, around the world on matters of international relations, law, and security.

Ralby has a BA in Modern Languages and Linguistics and an MA in Intercultural Communication from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; a JD from William & Mary Law School, where he was a Jack Kent Cooke scholar; and both an MPhil and a PhD from the University of Cambridge, where he was a Gates scholar.