Bahrain said an explosion which caused a fire at its main oil pipeline on Friday was caused by “terrorist” sabotage, linking the unprecedented attack to Iran, which denies any role in the Gulf island kingdom’s unrest.
Bahrain's interior minister, Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, said Saturday's blast was "the latest example of a terrorist act performed by terrorists in direct contact with and under instruction from Iran."
In Tehran, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi rejected the allegations as “false talk and childish accusations”.
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 defence said in a statement earlier on Saturday.
Residents close to the incident near Buri village, some 15 km (10 miles) from the capital Manama, were being evacuated to a safe shelter, the statement added.
Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry said pumping to Bahrain had been suspended and the kingdom was stepping up security precautions at its own facilities.
“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.
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 bpd.
A new 350 000 bpd 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.
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