Explosion hits Azeri oil pipeline in Russia

Jun 21, 2004 02:00 AM

An explosion hit a pipeline taking oil from Azerbaijan across Russia for export, causing a fire and sending tons of crude spewing out, emergency ministry officials said. The explosion occurred at about 1 a.m. in the southern Russian region of Dagestan about 180 km (112 miles) from the Azeri capital of Baku, a regional ministry spokesman said.
"There was an explosion on the Baku-Tikhoretsk pipeline. The automatic protection system went immediately into operation and the damaged section shut down," the spokesman told.

About 2.5 mm tons of Azeri oil is pumped through the pipeline every year to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, via Tikhoretsk, and from there shipped to Western markets.
It was not immediately clear whether exports were affected by the blast. The spokesman said an ensuing fire blazed for three hours before being brought under control.
"About 40 tons of oil leaked out. It covers an area of approximately 4,800 square metres," the spokesman said.

A senior regional energy official, Guseim Adilov, was quoted as saying the explosion had been caused deliberately by somebody trying to siphon off oil -- a common practice by criminal gangs in the region.
The pipeline, that runs close to the Russian rebel region of Chechnya, has been hit by many explosions in the past.

Source: The Russia Journal Daily
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