Monday, April 1, 2013

Security expert warns of pipeline explosion

Monday, 01 April 2013 17:01 Mizzima News

Running a pipeline of natural gas through an active conflict zone is highly dangerous, according to a respected security consultant in the UK.

KIA front lines

Speaking to reporter James Byrne of Russian newswire Interfax’s Natural Gas Daily, Michael Oxlade, senior security consultant at Westminster International, which provides security for oil and gas infrastructure, said that running an over-ground gas pipeline in a location where an armed conflict is taking place is “absolutely unadvisable”.

Oxlade was interviewed for an Interfax report about the trans-Myanmar Shwe Gas pipeline which is currently in its final phase of construction. Chinese investors CNPC recently announced that they hoped to have the pipeline actively transferring gas from the Bay of Bengal to southern China by June.

However, the final phase of the 2,806-km pipeline—which is intended to transport 12 billion cubic meters of gas per year—runs through northern Shan State where the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) is engaged in heavy fighting against Myanmar government forces.

Much of the conflict zone is peppered with landmines, and both sides use both small arms and heavy assault weapons, including artillery. In recent months, the Myanmar army has intensified its assaults on KIA front lines, bases and its headquarters in Laiza, and has deployed jet fighters and helicopter gunships to attack Kachin positions.

“Running an over-ground gas pipeline in a location where an armed conflict is taking place is absolutely unadvisable; an explosion could easily be caused by a stray bullet. If the pipeline is penetrated, it will explode, causing it—and the surrounding area—significant damage,” Oxlade is quoted as saying in the March 28 report.
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