Saudi Arabia tightens security after Bahrain pipeline blast
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry said pumping to Bahrain had been suspended and the kingdom was stepping up security precautions at its own facilities after its Gulf island neighbour blamed “terrorism” linked to Iran for an oil pipeline blast.
Iran denies any role in unrest in Bahrain, host to the U.S. Fifth Fleet and a key Western ally, which has for years grappled with protests and sporadic violence.
“The attack on the pipeline … was followed by the suspension of the pumping of oil to the State of Bahrain,” the Saudi Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources said.
“The Ministry of Energy also confirmed that it has increased its security precautions at all its facilities, and that all these facilities enjoy the highest levels of protection and safety,” it added in a statement.
Bahraini authorities said they had brought under control the fire at the oil pipeline.
State-run Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) closed the flow of oil to the stricken pipeline, the civil defense said in a statement earlier on Saturday.
Residents close to the incident near Buri village, some 15 kilometers (10 miles) from the capital Manama, were being evacuated to a safe shelter, the statement added.
Bahrain relies on the Abu Safa oilfield for the majority of its oil. It shares the field with Saudi Arabia. Oil to Bahrain is transported via the 55 km A-B pipeline which has a capacity of 230,000 barrels per day (bpd).
A new 350,000-barrels per day oil pipeline between the two countries will be completed next year and will serve the planned expansion of Bahrain’s refinery capacity.
Arabian Light crude oil will flow from Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq plant via the 115-km new pipeline, 73 km of which will run overland and the rest under the Gulf.