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Bombs Hit Southern Iraq Oil Pipeline

Source: Reuters 12/13/2011, Location: Middle East

Three bombs hit an oil pipeline that transports crude from Iraq's southern oilfields to storage tanks around the oil hub of Basra, an oil police source said. The impact on oil production or exports was not immediately clear, but firefighters were working to put out the blaze caused by the blast, the source that was at the explosion site said.

"The explosions happened in succession and caused an enormous fire," he said.

"We cannot go near the explosion site because the fire is still raging ... we fear the fire might extend to other nearby oil pipelines."

The source said the oil police were checking other pipelines for more bombs.

Oil official in Basra confirmed the blast was caused by a bomb attack. The pipeline was carrying crude to the Zubair 1 storage facility near Basra, the two sources said. In early June, militants blew up a storage tank at the Zubair 1 storage facility, despite tight security.

Basra, which handles the bulk of Iraq's oil exports, has generally seen fewer attacks this year than other cities in the country following an overall decline in levels of violence since the peak of sectarian conflict in Iraq in 2006-07.

In October, two bombs hit pipeline networks transporting crude from Iraq's Rumaila oilfield, the country's biggest, cutting output from the field to 530,000 barrels per day from about 1.24 million bpd. Iraq's oil police have stepped up patrols to protect installations against a possible surge in al Qaeda attacks as U.S. troops withdraw before Dec. 31, the head of the force said.

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