Sabotage incidents damage Sui Gas pipelines, briefly shut down production

By an OGJ correspondent

KARACHI, Jan. 27 -- Repairs are under way on natural gas pipelines in Pakistan's Sui gas field, and a search is being conducted for parties responsible for sabotaging Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd. mainlines in separate incidents Jan. 21 and 22 that cut off gas supply to some areas of Sindh and Balochistan provinces.

Two main gas pipelines—one 24-in. and the other 30-in.—connected to a valve assembly 18 miles downstream of Sui field were blown up Jan. 21 by a rocket's direct hit on the valve assembly. Warring Mazari and Bugti tribesmen are blamed for that damage said Political Agent, 'B' area, Rajanpur, Chaudhry M Aslam. And on Jan. 22 in Balochistan province, unidentified individuals set explosives under pipeline 'No. 26 Wheel' and detonated it, according to local witnesses. The second blast caused more gas leakage and the total suspension of gas supply to various cities.

Because of the first blast, gas supply had already been partially cut off to the Punjab and North West Frontier Province (NWFP) areas. In addition to destroying the valve assembly and damaging the pipelines, the first blast had caused a huge gas-fed fireball that, according to unofficial estimates, caused a severe financial loss to the government until gas to the area could be shut down using valves at Sui field and Indus Crossing at Guddu.

According to the Gas Authority, at least seven active gas wells in Sui fields were also shut down to avoid further damage. Heavy contingents of rangers and police commandos were deployed to cordon the area and provide security to the Sui Northern technical team repairing the damaged pipeline. Sui Northern said that repair work proceeded "on a war footing" so that supply could be resumed as a top priority.

At the time of the first explosion, the system was transporting 500 MMcfd of gas against a minimum domestic and commercial requirement of 800 MMcfd. Sui, Pirkoh, and Loti fields supply 600 MMcfd of gas out of a total input into the company's system of about 1.12 bcfd. The remaining gas is supplied by Qadirpur field, Dhodak field, and gas fields in the Potohar area, which were not affected by the blasts.

Probes under way
In a statement Jan 22, Pakistan Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Ch Nouraiz Shakoor Khan said the government had formed a high level committee to probe into the blast incidents. The Minister directed the concerned authorities to mobilize efforts for quick restoration of gas service and to take appropriate security measures for the gas transmission system.

Meanwhile, police also launched a search for tribesmen who fired rockets on the pipeline, and the parties responsible for the explosion the following day. Security has been reinforced, but there have been no arrests at presstime, according to Brigadier Javed Cheema, who heads the ministry's National Crises Management division.

The two attacks represent the fourth time that the main gas pipeline from Sui to Punjab and the northern areas has been damaged.

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