Turkey: Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline operational after fire put out

The fire resulting from an explosion along the pipeline has been put out; cause remains unknown.

A general view of oil tanks at Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan
The pipeline carries oil from Kirkuk in northern Iraq to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, on the Mediterranean Sea. [Umit Bektas/Reuters]

Istanbul, Turkey – A fire at a major pipeline carrying crude oil from Iraq has been extinguished and the system is operational again, Turkey’s oil pipeline operator Botas said.

An explosion occurred along the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline in the southeastern Turkish province of Kahramanmaras at approximately 7:30pm (16:30 GMT) on Tuesday, Botas said on Wednesday, and a resulting fire spread to a major highway nearby.

The Karhamanmaras municipal government said no casualties were reported and dozens of emergency vehicles worked to put out the blaze .

The cause of the explosion is still being investigated.

The pipeline carries oil from Kirkuk in northern Iraq to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, where it is loaded onto ships and exported mostly to European buyers.

Last year, the pipeline carried about 450,000 barrels per day. In addition to Iraqi government oil, it is also the only pipeline for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to export crude oil.

The disruption added to the high global oil prices, with a one percent increase in brent crude futures, taking it to nearly $89 per barrel, the highest since 2014, according to Reuters news agency.

The 960km (600-mile) Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline has frequently been the target of attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which is aligned against the KRG and has fought a decades-long rebellion against Turkish government.

In October 2020, the PKK said it attacked the pipeline in the Turkish province of Mardin, near the Iraq border.

The pipeline was also briefly shut down in 2015 after another PKK attack in the Turkish province of Sirnak.

The shutdowns cost the KRG millions of dollars daily in losses, depriving it of its chief source of revenue.

Turkey maintains a military presence in northern Iraq and regularly carries out air raids and ground operations against PKK forces there, which operate out of the Qandil Mountains.

Source: Al Jazeera