NSA and GCHQ Infiltrated OPEC’s Computer Network

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Barack Obama with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

American and British intelligence agencies hacked into computers belonging to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), according to documents disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.


The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) collected what was described as “a treasure trove of information,” according to Der Spiegel, which reviewed the NSA materials.


The infiltration of OPEC’s computers, which began in 2008, yielded an internal study by the OPEC Research Division that stated the organization tried to blame high oil prices on speculators.


The spying also uncovered that OPEC’s legal department was preparing for an antitrust lawsuit in the U.S., and that OPEC leadership knew Saudi Arabia was secretly producing more oil than it claimed, which undercut the organization’s goal of inflating oil prices. The NSA learned that the Saudis were releasing inaccurate totals about the country’s oil production, which confirmed suspicions by officials in the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department and the Department of Energy.


The NSA documents further revealed that the NSA has been spying on Saudi Arabia’s OPEC governor, with the approval of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The surveillance was suspended during his visit to the U.S., and then resumed when he left.


Based in Vienna, OPEC was founded in 1960, and is made up of 12 member states whose mission is to oversee the world oil market and maintain high prices.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Oil Espionage: How the NSA and GCHQ Spied on OPEC (Der Spiegel)

NSA Teamed with U.K. and Tech Companies to Override Global Internet Privacy (by Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Does NSA Avoid U.S. Legal Restrictions by Hiring British Intelligence to Gather Information on Americans? (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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