Turkey pipeline blast rekindles security concerns

Eric Watkins
Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 7 -- Oil has resumed flowing through one of the twin Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipelines following an explosion on one of the lines near the town of Bozova, in the mainly Kurdish province of Sanliurfa in southeastern Turkey.

The announcement, which came just as European energy officials were in the country discussing plans for the proposed Nabucco gas pipeline, made no mention of foul play.

"There is currently oil flowing through the pipeline at about 300,000-350,000 b/d," said an official of pipeline operator Botas. "We had to cut the flow after the explosion, but then diverted the oil to the other line, so it is flowing again," he said.

"We expect that the repair won't take more than 3 days, it depends also on the availability of pipe for the line," the Botas official said.

Sabotage downplayed
Iraq's northern crude oil export system, which runs from the northern Kirkuk oil fields to the Turkish Mediterranean export terminal at Ceyhan, is comprised of two parallel pipelines with a nominal capacity of 1.5 million b/d.

Since the US-led war of 2003, the line has been running at a reduced capacity due to attacks by insurgents as well as erratic production from Iraq's northern oil fields.

In September, the privately-owned Sbay media website cited an official from Iraq's North Oil Co. who said the Kirkuk-Ceyhan line had been attacked by armed men near Mosul and that exports would be suspended for 3 days.

In this week's shutdown, Turkish officials downplayed the possibility of sabotage.

"Valves on the double line were closed on Nov. 5 when Botas officials noticed a sharp change in pressure resulting from the explosion. The cause of the blast has yet to be determined," the official said.

Earlier, local officials in the province of Sanliurfa said the explosion had resulted from high pressure within the pipeline and not from sabotage.

"Thank goodness it's not sabotage," said Sanliurfa governor Yusuf Yavascan. "According to investigations the pipeline broke from the inside out. This shows the explosion was due to excessive pressure."

Security uncertainty
According to analyst BMI, however, the sector of this week's explosion has been at the center of violence perpetrated by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

"Violence has increased in the mostly Kurdish region of southeastern Turkey in reaction to Turkish military operations against PKK bases in northern Iraq and its members inside the country," BMI said.

In BMI's view, "if militants are found to be responsible for the attack on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, the security of Turkey as a transit country may be further called into doubt."

In particular, BMI said, "Doubts over Turkey's future as an energy transit hub for the EU would make the Union's flagship Nabucco pipeline project far less likely to proceed."

In that regard, the explosion could not have been better timed, coming just as EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs met Turkey's President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Hilmi Guler to discuss mutual concerns about the Nabucco pipeline.

Concerns over pipeline security in Turkey were raised in August of this year when the separatist PKK claimed responsibility for a blast that shut down the BP PLC-led Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline in August.

If this week's attack is linked to the PKK or any other group, it would also undermine broader plans by governments in the region to step up their role as an energy transit hub.

Plans undermined
In October, eyeing cooperation with neighbors Turkey and Iran, Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani said his country plans to expand the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline and construct a parallel natural gas export line.

"Interdependence in the energy sector can help regional economic development," Al-Shahristani said, adding, "Iraq is ready to do whatever is necessary to enhance relations with its neighbors, especially in the field of energy."

Al-Shahristani's remarks followed a July 10 visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Baghdad.

Erdogan's visit covered a wide range of energy issues, including expansion of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil line as well as construction of a parallel gas export pipeline to Turkey to supply the long-planned Nabucco line.

"Plans for the line will be subject to discussion and several sources within Iraq for the gas are being examined," said a spokesman, who added that a number of virgin gas fields in the Kurdish region of Iraq are a possible source.

Ominously perhaps, Erdogan's visit did not include any meetings with representatives of the Kurdish Regional Government, which controls the region of Iraq through which the existing Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil line passes and through which any new gas line would have to pass.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

Related Articles

Iraqi oil export pipeline hit by saboteurs

11/25/2009 Iraq’s exports of oil to Turkey’s Mediterraneann port of Ceyhan have been stopped due to sabotage along a pipeline in the country&rsquo...

Iraq approves CNPC contract for Adhab oil field

09/03/2008 Iraq has approved a $3 billion contract awarded last week by the ministry of oil to Chinese National Petroleum Co. (CNPC) to develop and produce Ad...

CNPC to develop Ahdab oil field in Iraq

08/30/2008 The Iraqi Ministry of Oil, renegotiating an agreement first signed more than a decade ago, has approved arrangements that will allow state-owned Ch...

MARKET WATCH: Weak dollar, low inventories raise energy prices

03/27/2008 Crude and gasoline prices surged Mar. 26 on the New York futures market after a segment of the Department of Energy reported a large draw in gasoli...

MARKET WATCH: Crude prices continue to fall

03/25/2008 Crude prices continued to fall Mar. 24 amid continued worries about slowing energy demand and the recovery of the US dollar from recent lows agains...

MARKET WATCH: Prices rebound with Turkish incursion into Iraq

02/25/2008 Crude prices rebounded Feb. 22 as Turkey launched its first major ground incursion in nearly a decade against Kurdish rebel bases in Iraq.

NYMEX closed to mourn Ford

01/03/2007 Floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange was closed Jan. 2 to observe a day of mourning for former President Gerald Ford, but energy price...

Kuwait planning gas production by 2008

11/21/2006 Kuwait, which in March announced the discovery of 35 tcf of free natural gas and a large quantity of light oil in what it called its "northern oil ...

Iraq establishes buyers for Kirkuk crude

06/26/2006 Iraq has sold 4 million bbl of Kirkuk crude to ExxonMobil Corp. and Turkish oil refiner Tupras from a tender for 6 million bbl.
White Papers

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...
Available Webcasts

The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

When Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.


On Demand

Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 


Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.


Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!


Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected