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BP denies jet attack on Baku-Ceyhan pipeline

15 August 2008

British Petroleum has refuted an allegation made by the Georgian authorities that Russian air strikes had damaged the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. According to Georgia, Russia’s jets unsuccessfully attacked pipeline firing 51 missiles. Explosion craters can apparently be seen close to the facilities. A BP spokesman said that a thorough check had been carried out but did not reveal any evidence of bombing in the pipeline area.

BP has refuted bombing allegations
BP has refuted bombing allegations

BP shut down the pipeline carrying Caspian oil from Azerbaijan to the Georgian Sea on Tuesday (Aug 12), citing concern about security in Georgia. A BP spokesman suggested that the 150,000 barrels a day pipeline from Baku to Supsa on the Georgian Black Sea had been closed as a security precaution. A natural gas pipeline linking a BP-operated field offshore Azerbaijan with Georgia and Turkey has also been closed.

Exports through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline to the Turkish Mediterranean, the main artery for exports from BP’s huge Azeri field offshore Azerbaijan, halted last week after an explosion on the Turkish section of the pipeline. The pipeline carries 850,000 barrels a day. Kurdish separatists have claimed responsibility for the accident in Turkey.

The spokesman said a fire at the site was extinguished on Monday (Aug 11) but the area was still ‘too hot’ for repair work to begin and it was unclear when deliveries to the Ceyhan would recommence. Very small volumes of Azeri oil, less than 100,000 barrels a day were being exported via railways across the Caucasus and a pipeline to Russia.

The International Energy Agency warned that the conflict in Georgia threatens the strategic energy export corridor linking the Caspian and central Asia with western oil and gas markets. The escalation in the military engagement between Russia and Georgia poses a threat to certain key oil and gas pipelines which transit Georgia, the IEA said in a report issued shortly before Russia declared a ceasefire in Georgia.

Some BP employees remain in Georgia but they will probably leave the country after the British Foreign Office urged all British residents to hasten out of it while air transportation is still available and the border is open.

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