ANKARA - An overnight blast in southeastern Turkey interrupted oil flow from Iraq, with Kurdish rebels suspected to be behind the explosions, Turkish and Iraqi authorities said Monday.
The blast hit the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline in Mardin province close to Turkey's border with Syria and repairs are expected to take up to 10 days, an energy ministry official said on customary condition of anonymity.
"An act of sabotage inside Turkey targeted a pipeline carrying Iraqi oil to the Turkish port of Ceyhan after midnight," causing pumping to be stopped, Iraqi oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad also told AFP.
He insisted that it "will not affect exports and its repair will be completed quickly."
Iraq's North Oil Company will switch to pumping through a second pipeline, and exports from Ceyhan are to continue using reserves of oil there, Jihad said.
The incident also sparked a fire that was brought under control on Monday, according to another source from the Turkish ministry, who said that Kurdish rebels were believed to be responsible for the sabotage.
Militants from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, have sabotaged the pipeline several times in the past as part of an armed campaign against the Ankara government.
The pipeline has also been repeatedly attacked by Sunni Arab insurgents inside Iraq since the US-led invasion of the country in 2003.
The oil flow was again cut last month when a fire erupted in the same Mardin province after a rebel attack.
The 970-kilometre (600-mile) pipeline runs from Iraq's northern oil hub of Kirkuk to the port of Ceyhan on Turkey's Mediterranean coast, pumping 450,000 to 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
Iraq depends on oil sales for the vast majority of government income. The oil-rich nation exported some 2.515 million barrels per day in July, earning about US$7.535 billion (S$9.35 billion) in revenues, according to Jihad.