Wednesday 3 April 2013

Double pipeline explosion in northeast Libya.

An explosion roughly 170 km south of Benghazi severed pipelines carrying crude oil and natural gas at about 10.00 pm local time (about 8.00 pm GMT) on Tuesday 2 April 2013. Work began to repair the oil pipeline quite quickly, and it is thought that it should be back in operation within two days. The gas pipeline is reportedly still burning, with repair crews preferring to allow the fire to remove the remaining gas from the (now sealed off) pipeline, rather than attempting to work on a pipe that may still contain gas.

Libyan Police vehicles guarding the burning pipeline on 3 April. Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters.

The pipeline is operated by the Zueitina Oil Company, and caries crude from Field 103, which is operated by Zueitina, the Abu Attifel Field, which is operated by the Mellitah Oil Company and the Nakhlah Oil Field, which is operated by German company Wintershall, to the port of Zueitina on the Libyan coast.

Initial reports suggested that the explosion was the result of sabotage, after mortar shells were found close to the damaged pipeline, but it is now thought that these were ordinance left over from the civil war of 2011, and that the explosion was caused by a technical fault on the gas pipeline. No injuries have been reported from the site, but local people report a considerable amount of oil has been discharged into the environment.

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