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Sabotage disrupts BTC pipeline in Turkey

08 August 2008

A major fire in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which has been featured in the James Bond film The World is Not Enough, has caused major disruption in fuel supplies and raised international oil prices back up to $120. The pipeline is a major supplier of crude oil to the western world, supplying more than 1% of the world’s daily crude output. The fire, which started on August 5, is in the the Turkish sector and has caused workers to shut down two valves, halting the flow of oil.

Working on the BTC pipeline. Courtesy: BP
Working on the BTC pipeline. Courtesy: BP

The production of oil has continued as normal despite the fire continuing to burn until the 11th August. Authorities believed that any attempts to extinguish the blaze would result in more environmental damage. Cooling of the pipeline has began so that repairs can be initiated. The pipeline is expected to be closed for 15 days.

BP, which is a 30% shareholder in the pipeline, is looking into alternative methods of delivering oil to the West in case closure lasts for longer than expected.

Separatist Kurdish rebels claimed responsibility for the initial explosion, although no evidence of sabotage being found. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) took up arms for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey's southeast in 1984, and has a history of sabotaging gas and oil pipelines. This sabotage of the BTC pipeline is believed to be a result of a recent intensified military crackdown against the PKK, as well as the army killing 240 militants and destroying hideouts in February.

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