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Cablegate: Turkey: Technical Glitch Said to Rupture Kirkuk-Ceyhan

VZCZCXRO5880
RR RUEHDA
DE RUEHDA #0045 3121515
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 071515Z NOV 08
FM AMCONSUL ADANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4683
INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 1226
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 1035
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0139
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 1288

UNCLAS ADANA 000045

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EPET ECON SENV TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: TECHNICAL GLITCH SAID TO RUPTURE KIRKUK-CEYHAN
PIPELINE

REF: ANKARA 1914

1. (U) SUMMARY. Media report on the afternoon of November 5,
a technical malfunction triggered a rupture in the Kirkuk-Ceyhan
pipeline near the Bozova district of Sanliurfa province. An MFA
source told us the cause of the accident was technical, while a
BOTAS official preferred to wait for the results of an ongoing
investigation before commenting. A former BOTAS official
speculated these types of accidents may be the result of a
strained budget situation at BOTAS (reftel). According to
reports, crude oil has seeped over an area of 5 kilometers,
reaching the shores of the artificial lake created by the
Ataturk Dam. A local contact confirmed press reports that water
had been cut off to residences in the affected areas, including
Sanliurfa city. END SUMMARY.
2. (SBU) Local press report at approximately 1530 on November
5, residents of Yalintas village heard an explosion on the
Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline. (Note: This pipeline is operated by
state-owned pipeline monopoly BOTAS and it carries Iraqi oil to
the port of Ceyhan. End note.) Director of State Waterworks at
the Ataturk Dam Gungor Gurkan confirmed online news that the
burst was caused by an abrupt shift in pressure and not by
sabotage or an act of terrorism.

3. (SBU) MFA Energy Department Head Berris Ekinci told us the
GOT currently believes the cause of the accident was technical.
The Deputy for Natural Gas and Petroleum Operations at BOTAS,
Ruhi Aksoy, said BOTAS is currently investigating the accident
and he declined to speculate on the cause before the team
finishes its assessment.

4. (SBU) Former BOTAS Department Head for International Affairs
and current General Manager for E.ON Ruhrgas in Turkey, Dr. Cenk
Pala also told us he believes the cause was technical. Pala
hypothesized that BOTAS's strained financial situation is taking
its toll on the company. GOT-owned enterprises owe BOTAS more
than USD 8 billion (including interest) according to Pala.
BOTAS is operating on a shoe-string budget and has not been able
to provide the necessary training for staff or maintenance for
pipelines. Additionally, BOTAS is losing qualified staff to
private companies.


5. (U) Online images show heavy plumes of black smoke
spiraling from a controlled fire set by local officials to
prevent crude oil from further seeping into the already
contaminated two-kilometers of river bed. According to the
press, fires are expected to burn for two days after which BOTAS
Petroleum Pipeline Corporation, the pipeline's operating
company, reportedly will require at least five days to assess
and fix the damage.
6. (U) While the environmental impact assessment is ongoing,
Sanliurfa Human Rights Association Chairman Sedat Gozkiran told
us the Ataturk Dam Irrigation Union reported a "serious amount"
of oil had leaked into the reservoir and that residential water
supplies had been shut off by the state. Media report a
30-kilometer oil slick now covers protected areas for the local
softshell Euphrates turtle and fish population.
7. (SBU) Comment. The Kirkuk-Ceyhan (also known as
Kirkuk-Yumurtalik) pipeline, spanning over 1850 kilometers
between Iraq and its ending point in the Mediterranean terminus
in Turkey has experienced periodic sabotage over the past five
years. At this point, there is no reason to believe the
accident was the result of sabotage. The pipeline has been
performing well this past year, with BOTAS reporting over 100
million barrels flowing between January and September. End
comment.

GREEN

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