Dagestan pipeline explosion causes considerable oil spill

Sep 12, 2001 02:00 AM

A large amount of oil has leaked into the Achesa River and the Caspian Sea following an explosion along a section of the Baku-Novorossiisk trunk pipeline in Dagestan late on August 28.
After the pipeline was breached, an official in Moscow told a considerable volume of oil was spilled. It was not clear whether the official had specified the amount of crude that leaked from the pipeline, but it was indicated that the quantity was much larger than previously thought.
Civil defence authorities in Dagestan had said after the incident that the volume of oil leaking from the damaged pipeline had not exceeded 20 cm and that no more than 1 cm of crude had flowed into the Caspian. The official said, though, that quite a bit of oil had leaked from the pipeline between 10:50 p.m. on August 28, when the explosion was heard, and 2:25 p.m. the following afternoon, when experts located the hole in the pipeline. Workers have been able to contain the crude that flowed into the Caspian, he said, noting that the crude had formed a slick on the surface of the sea.

The incident occurred in a resort area 40 km away from the local capital Makhachkala and 2 km from the Caspian Sea coast. The pipeline was not pumping any crude at the time of the explosion since Azerbaijan had already fulfilled its August quota for exports of 255,000 tons of oil along the Baku-Novorossiisk line.
The cause of the spill was not immediately clear. Some Russian press outlets said that the damaged section of the pipeline had apparently been rigged with explosives. Those who placed the explosives were probably trying either to steal oil from the pipeline or carry out a terrorist operation to bolster the separatist cause in neighbouring Chechnya.

However, it is not yet clear whether terrorists were to blame for the events in Dagestan. The official in Moscow said that investigators were looking into this theory but had not so far uncovered any evidence confirming or denying it. Theft of crude oil from pipelines and surface wells is widespread in Chechnya, located just to the west of Dagestan in the northern Caucasus, as is the sale of crudely produced motor fuel made from stolen oil. These practices have also spread to other parts of Russia.

Source: NewsBase
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