An explosion on one of the two pipelines bringing crude from Kirkuk in Iraq to the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean led to a large fire on Thursday, shutting oil flows on that pipe, a Turkish energy official said.

"Flow has stopped, however, oil flow on one of the two pipes is continuing," the energy official told Reuters.

A Turkish security official meanwhile said there were three near simultaneous explosions at separate points along the pipeline in the Idil area of Turkey’s Sirnak province, close to the border with Iraq.

It was not immediately clear what had caused Thursday’s blasts but sabotage is common on oil and gas pipelines leading into Turkey from Iran and Iraq, where Kurdish separatist militants operate.

The pipeline, which carries a quarter of Iraq’s crude exports, from the northern Kirkuk oilfield to Ceyhan, has been repeatedly attacked. It has a capacity of 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) and typically pumps 500,000 bpd.

Turkish security officials said firemen were still trying to extinguish the flames and that repairs to the pipeline could not take place until they had been put out.

Source: Reuters