One focus area for NISAC is the importance of local and regional infrastructures—understanding their interactions and importance to our overall national economic health.

In 2004 and 2005, NISAC evaluated the western Gulf Coast region. NISAC

  • developed a National Petroleum System Simulator to evaluate the potential short-term effects of disruptions in the western Gulf Coast petroleum infrastructure operations on the rest of the country,
  • developed a data model of the petrochemical industry in the region to evaluate the potential impacts of disruptions within the chemical region in that region, and
  • adapted the NISAC Port Operations Simulator to the Houston container port to for simulating the potential effects of security measures and infrastructure disruptions on container operations.

These modeling tools allow us to simulate and evaluate potential problems in water transport, petroleum and petrochemical-related national security events, and policies before they occur or are implemented. The models also allow us to evaluate the potential impacts in the event of a loss of specific port, petroleum, or petrochemical facilities or operations due to terrorism or natural disaster events.  The national petroleum and chemical industry models were used in the analysis of potential impacts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Regional Collaboration

The NISAC simulation and analysis team worked with U.S. Coast Guard staff; private-sector partners representing the petroleum, water transportation, and chemical industries; and regional manufacturing associations throughout the project development, model development, and analysis phases. NISAC held outreach workshops with representatives from each of the collaboration groups to review key regional issues and concerns. Participants, including security and operations experts, also reviewed and validated the simulation and analysis results, and identified areas for further collaboration.

Workshops are also an important part of the NISAC development and testing process. They demonstrate the capabilities and utility of NISAC’s tools and analyses, elicit feedback from participants, and expand NISAC collaborations. They also allow participants to gain a systems perspective on how infrastructures and their interdependencies influence the impact of disruptive events and how those impacts may change under different environmental, regulatory, and policy conditions. NISAC, in turn, benefits from the knowledge and experience of experts working in maritime-related government and industry. The NISAC models are continually refined based on workshop results.

The Barbours Cut port operations model provides users with the added ability to run five predefined disruption scenarios

  1. loss of electric power,
  2. breakdown in telecommunications,
  3. port security threat/shutdown,
  4. labor disruption, and a
  5. maritime security level III (MARSEC 3) alert

to evaluate port response to the disruption under user-selected conditions. As the predefined disruption model runs, users can manipulate various controls to determine how best to respond and recover from the disruption (or combination of disruptions).

The NISAC simulators can be modified to apply to other ports.