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Major Caucasus oil, gas pipelines unaffected by rocket attack: Azerbaijan's Socar


No damage to Baku-Ceyhan oil, South Caucasus gas lines

Azerbaijan accuses Armenian forces of rocket attack

Armenian government denies attacking oil, gas lines

Istanbul — The 1 million b/d Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the 25 Bcm a year South Caucasus gas pipeline are fully operational, Azerbaijan's state oil company Socar said Oct. 7, after the country's government accused Armenian forces of a missile attack on the major oil and gas export routes to Europe.

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Azerbaijani government officials said late Oct. 6 that Armenian forces had fired a cluster rocket which struck 10 meters away from the BTC line in the central-western Yevlakh region, ejecting more than 300 cluster bomblets. It added, however, that the pipelines were not damaged.

Socar spokesman Ibrahim Ahmadov confirmed Oct. 7. that missiles believed to be fired by Armenian forces had landed close to the BTC oil line and the South Caucasus gas pipeline, in an area north of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Ahmadov also said that in the area targeted, the two pipelines run close to each other, but that neither pipeline was damaged and the normal flow was continuing through both. He, however, cautioned that the threat to both the infrastructure and the flow of oil and gas was "constant."

Armenian foreign ministry spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan denied the Azerbaijani statements calling them "ridiculous that imaginary terrorism concerns."

The BP-operated BTC oil line carries Azeri light crude to Turkey's Mediterranean oil hub of Ceyhan, with the flow recently running at around 600,000 b/d.

The SCP line currently carries gas to Turkey under two contracts: 6.6 Bcm/year via Turkey's domestic transit grid and a further 6 Bcm/year via the 31 Bcm/year TANAP pipeline, all supplied from the BP-operated Shah Deniz gas field. It also supplies gas to Georgia.

The SCP and TANAP lines in November are scheduled to start carrying up to 10 Bcm/year of additional gas to be fed into the 10 Bcm/year Trans Adriatic gas pipeline, or TAP, running from the Turkey-Greece border through Greece, Albania and across the Adriatic to Italy.

Conflict threat to key infrastructure

The war between Azerbaijan and Armenia has threatened to spill over and affect regional oil and gas export infrastructure for some time.

The conflict centers on Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-controlled territory inside Azerbaijan, and has involved some of the fiercest fighting since the early 1990s. The conflict zone lies just 30-40 km (19-25 miles) from the BTC and SCP pipelines. BTC currently carries around 600,000 b/d of oil, and with ample spare capacity accommodates small volumes from other Caspian producers such as Kazakhstan. SCP forms the eastern section of the Southern Gas Corridor, extending across Turkey to Italy, with up to 25 Bcm/year of capacity.

Both pipelines skirt around sensitive break-away regions of Georgia and Azerbaijan, with the BTC link buried for its entire length. The $40-billion Southern Gas Corridor project is backed by the EU and US as a way to diversify European supplies away from Russia.

In a written response to S&P Global Platts in the week ended Oct. 2, BP said its plans to supply gas through the TANAP-TAP corridor to Italy had not been changed by the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.