|Turkey confirmed the fire caused by an explosion which forced the closure of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline was because of a terrorist attack, Platts News Agency reported on Thursday.
The BTC pipeline was hit by an explosion on Turkish territory on Aug. 5, two days before the conflict began over the South Ossetia region and the oil flow had halted. Turkish officials and the operator company, BP, had said the line was not affected by the conflict between Georgia and Russia.
The explosion on the pipeline was caused by a terrorist attack, Platts News Agency reported on Thursday. "The explosion and fire was caused by an attack by a terrorist group, most likely the PKK," Platts quoted an official at Turkey's energy ministry as saying, referring to the outlawed terrorist organization.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey as well as the most of the international community, including the U.S. and the EU, frequently uses remote-control landmines to target Turkey's security forces.
Firat News, a pro-PKK website, last week ran a story quoting a PKK member associated with the PKK claiming responsibility for the attack, Platts said.
A Turkey-based spokesman for BP confirmed that police investigations into the cause of the explosion had been completed but that no announcement had been made on the cause.
"Once the assessment is complete we'll be able to estimate how long repairs will take," the BP spokesman said.
BTC IS "DEAD"
An adviser to the Russian parliament also claimed the closed pipeline would not be opened again and declared the line is "dead".
"The world and countries in the region have seen that not NATO, but Russia is the only one who could secure the energy routes," Alexander Dugin, international politics advisor to the Russia's Duma, told Turkish Cumhuriyet daily.
"In this context, regarding Turkey's energy politics, it should be said that the BTC is not running at the moment and it will not run again."
The conflict between Russia and its small, former Soviet neighbor Georgia erupted last week when Georgia sent forces into South Ossetia, a small pro-Russian province which threw off Georgian rule in the 1990s. However not confirmed by officials, some media reports and Georgian officials also claimed that Russian aircraft also carried out a strike on the BTC's Georgian section, but missed their target.
The BTC pipeline closed due to the fire and is expected to reopen in one-two weeks after repair works have been completed.
The pipeline carries Azeri oil, which is high quality and worth more than many other crudes. The $4 billion BTC pipeline pumps the equivalent of more than 1 percent of world supply from fields in the Azeri sector of the Caspian Sea to Ceyhan on the Turkish Mediterranean coast.
REPAIR WORKS BEGIN
Repairs have started in Turkey on the BTC, but it is not clear when the line will reopen, Reuters reported citing a source from the Turkish pipeline company, Botas.
"Digging has begun to assess whether there has been damage to the valve on the pipeline, which is very important in determining when the pipeline will be reopened," Reuters quoted the senior level source as saying.
The source told Reuters it would take another two days to clarify when the line could reopen.
"We are working to determine the extent of the damage on the line, it is still impossible to say when repairs will be complete," he said.
According to the method chosen for the repair of the pipeline the process could take one or two weeks or even longer, a Botas source told Reuters last week.
Britain's BP owns 30.1 percent of BTC, while Azeri state oil company Socar holds 25 percent. Other shareholders include U.S. companies Chevron and ConocoPhillip, Norway's StatoilHydro, Italy's ENI and France's Total.