ANKARA (Reuters) – The flow of Iranian natural gas to Turkey was halted early on Monday after an explosion hit a gas pipeline in Turkish territory, a Turkish energy ministry official told Reuters.
“There is a good chance that the cause of the explosion on the pipeline was sabotage. The explosion occurred 13 kilometers (8 miles) inside Turkish territory,” said the official, who declined to be named.
Work to repair the pipeline, hit just after midnight, was underway and it should be operational in a few days time, said a source, who declined to be named, at state gas company Botas.
“The first results of the investigation show damage to a 30 meter (98 ft) piece of the pipeline which will need to be replaced,” the Botas source told Reuters.
Sabotage is common on pipelines leading into Turkey from Iran and Iraq, where Kurdish separatist militants are based.
Iran is Turkey’s second biggest supplier of natural gas after Russia.
Iran accounts for more than 20 percent of Turkish natural gas imports, though supplies from Tehran are often cut in the winter months as Iran has had difficulty covering its own supply needs.
Gas was cut last winter for nearly three weeks after Turkemenistan turned off the tap to the Islamic Republic, causing a domino effect as Turkey had to stop its gas exports to Greece.