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UpstreamOnline: Turkey beefs up security along BTC link

By Upstream staff

Turkey has stepped up security along the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline as its army prepares for a possible incursion into northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels based in the region, a senior energy ministry official said today.

Oil prices have risen to record highs in recent days amid tensions between Turkey and Iraq over the Turkish military plans. Parliament is expected to authorise military action later today.

“It is normal to have some threats against important pipelines at a time when Turkey is expected to launch an operation in northern Iraq. There are some threats (by Kurdistan Workers Party guerrillas) towards this pipeline,” a senior official told Reuters.

“For that reason, security measures in the facilities have been stepped up,” he said.

An official at state pipeline company Botas said the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline pumps oil at full capacity despite some small technical problems.

“There are no problems in the world markets with regard to oil supply. Great importance is attached to security of the pipeline,” he said.

But he said energy pipelines which cut across Turkey were too long for complete protection from possible sabotage.

Meanwhile, the flow of oil exports through Iraq’s northern pipeline to Turkey was on hold for the third consecutive day today, a shipping source said.

Iraq has pumped more Kirkuk crude through the line in sporadic shipments since August than it did in the whole of 2006. Sabotage has kept the pipeline mostly inoperable since the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Despite the irregularity of the flow, concerns the pipeline may be damaged if Turkey sends its troops into northern Iraq helped push US oil futures to a record of $88.20 yesterday.

Exports stopped on Sunday after Iraq pumped between 1.3 million and 1.4 million barrels through the line at the weekend to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. There were around 7 million barrels in Ceyhan storage tanks, the shipper told Reuters.
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17 October 2007 11:12 GMT  | last updated: 17 October 2007 11:20 GMT

http://www.upstreamonline.com/live/article142455.ece

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