Attack halts flow of Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline
ANKARA, July 29, 2015 – Turkey has suffered a second pipeline attack in as many days, amid rising geopolitical tensions on the country’s southeastern borders. On Wednesday, the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline suffered an attack 18 kilometres from the Iraq border in Sirnak province, prompting Turkish energy authorities to interrupt the flow of oil. The suspected act of sabotage comes a day after the Turkey-Iran natural gas pipeline was targeted by an explosion in Agri province, 15 kilometres from the border with Iran.
The Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline carries oil from Iraq to an export terminal at Turkey’s port city of Ceyhan. It is the main evacuation route for Iraqi crude intended for export. The pipeline has a throughput capacity of 400,000 barrels per day, however actual operating capacity is only around 300,000 barrels per day due to damage from previous attacks that occurred inside Iraq. In 2013, the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq connected a newly built spur line to the pipeline to transport oil produced at the Taq Taq field.
Turkish authorities will likely cast eyes on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for those responsible for Wednesday’s attack. The outlawed militant group received the blame for Tuesday’s attack, and is known to have carried out similar such incidents on pipelines in the 1990s. Tensions between the Turkish government and the PKK have risen recently following a series of retaliatory attacks and escalating rhetoric, culminating in the start of a bombing campaign on Monday by Turkey’s airforce against PKK bases in northern Iraq.
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