Blast hits Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, oil flows continue

ANKARA Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:20am EST

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ANKARA (Reuters) - An explosion rocked the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline carrying crude oil from Iraq to Turkey on Saturday night but oil flows were continuing and exports were not affected, Turkish energy officials said on Monday.

The blast occurred in the southeastern Turkish province of Mardin, the officials said. The cause was not immediately clear. The pipeline is hit intermittently by sabotage, for which Kurdish militants have in the past claimed responsibility.

"One of the lines suffered damage but the flow is continuing without problem through the parallel line. Exports have not been affected by the situation," one energy official told Reuters.

Turkey's southeast, through which the pipeline runs, is the scene of a conflict between Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants and the Turkish state. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the fighting since the PKK took up arms in 1984.

The PKK said its militants had carried out an attack on the pipeline in the Midyat district of Mardin on Friday night, according to a statement on the website of the group's armed wing. It did not refer to any attack on Saturday night.

The oil at Kirkuk, in northern Iraq, is also at the centre of a crisis within the Iraqi government of Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish parties over control of oil revenues, oilfields and territory. Kirkuk sits on the internal border between Iraq and the autonomous region of Kurdistan.

Kirkuk output has slumped to 280,000 (barrels per day) bpd from 900,000 bpd in 2001.

(Reporting by Orhan Coskun; writing by Daren Butler; editing by Nick Tattersall and Keiron Henderson)

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