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Cablegate: Mersin Refinery Fire Controlled

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ANKARA 004186

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE - NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EPET TU IZ
SUBJECT: MERSIN REFINERY FIRE CONTROLLED

(U) THIS CABLE IS FROM AMCONSUL ADANA.

1. (U) A FIERCE FIRE BROKE OUT ON JULY 25 AT ATAS OIL
REFINERY IN MERSIN. ACCORDING TO PRESS REPORTS, A TANK
CONTAINING SOME NINE THOUSAND CUBIC METERS OF CRUDE OIL
WAS ABLAZE THROUGHOUT THE DAY AS FIREFIGHTERS WORKED TO
PREVENT THE FIRE FROM SPREADING TO OTHER AREAS OF THE
REFINERY. MERSIN FREE ZONE GENERAL MANAGER EDWARD MUM
CONFIRMED TO DPO THAT, BY THE MORNING OF JULY 26, THE
FIRE WAS UNDER CONTROL AND WAS NOT IN DANGER OF
SPREADING NOR, HE CLAIMED, OF CAUSING SERIOUS
ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE. THE CAUSE OF THE BLAZE IS UNDER
INVESTIGATION AS OF JULY 27.

2. (SBU) THE ATAS REFINERY FACILITY IS A SUPPLY
SOURCE FOR THE NORTHERN GROUND LINE OF COMMUNICATION
TRANSPORTING FUEL TO IRAQ AND THE STALLED IRAQ-TURKEY
BOTAS FUEL PIPELINE. AT THE TIME THE FIRE BROKE OUT,
THERE WERE TWO DAYS OF FUEL IN STORAGE VESSELS AT THE
REFINERY, AWAITING ON-LOADING TO TANKER TRUCKS FOR
TRAVEL INTO IRAQ. DUE TO THE VOLATILITY OF THE FUEL
AND THE STRENGTH OF THE FIRE THAT BROKE OUT ON JULY 25,
MERSIN FIRE OFFICIALS HALTED THE LOADING OF ALL TANKER
TRUCKS ON BOTH JULY 25 AND 26. OUR CONTACTS ON THE
MILITARY LOGISTICS TEAM EXPECTED LOADING TO RESUME ON
JULY 27. (NOTE: UNFORTUNATELY, DUE TO THE
DYSFUNCTIONAL SITUATION AT THE HABUR GATE, THERE ARE
CURRENTLY ONLY TWELVE CERTIFIED TANKERS AVAILABLE FOR
TRANSPORTING FUEL; THEREFORE, IF THERE WERE AN
"OPPORTUNE" MOMENT FOR THIS TWO-DAY INTERRUPTION IN
LOADING, THIS WAS IT. PREVIOUSLY, 60-70 TANKERS HAD
BEEN LOADING AT ATAS EACH DAY. END NOTE.)

3. (u) IT IS UNCLEAR IF THE FIRE WILL HAVE ANY IMPACT
ON FUTURE PRODUCTION. IT MAY BE, HOWEVER, THAT
INDEPENDENT OF LAST SUNDAY'S FIRE, THE REFINERY'S
CURRENT PRODUCTION (REPORTEDLY SOME 40,000 BARRELS/DAY,
UNDER HALF OF ITS CAPACITY) WILL SOON COME TO AN END.
REUTERS BUSINESS REPORTED ON JULY 16 THAT TURCAS PETROL
HAD ANNOUNCED IN JUNE THAT THE REFINERY WOULD BE CLOSED
BY SEPTEMBER AND CONVERTED INTO AN "OIL PRODUCTS
TERMINAL." A CONTACT AT MERSIN'S CHAMBER OF MARINE
CONFIRMED THAT A DECISION HAD BEEN MADE TO CEASE
PRODUCTION AT THE REFINERY, PERHAPS AS EARLY AS THE END
OF JULY. ACCORDING TO REUTERS, BP HAS A 68 PERCENT
SHARE IN THE REFINERY, SHELL 27 PERCENT AND TURCAS 5
PERCENT.

4. (U) THIS REFINERY HAS BEEN A TARGET FOR DOMESTIC
TERRORISTS IN THE PAST -- IN DECEMBER 1997, FOR
EXAMPLE, A TIME BOMB WAS FOUND INSIDE A GAS CYLINDER AT
A FACILITY ADJOINING THE REFINERY, BUT WAS DEFUSED BY
AUTHORITIES. AT PRESENT WE ARE AWAITING DETAILS ON THE
INVESTIGATION OF THE INCIDENT.

5. (U) BAGHDAD MINIMIZE CONSIDERED.
DEUTSCH

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