Syria Gas Pipeline Attacked, State Blames ‘Terrorist’ Group

Gunmen blew up a natural-gas pipeline near the central city of Homs, in the second such attack on the country’s energy facilities in less than a week, the Syrian Arab News Agency said.

A “terrorist group” attacked the pipeline near the city of Rastan last night, causing an explosion and a fire on the network, without inflicting casualties, SANA said today. The pipeline transports natural-gas from the al-Omar field to the Mhardeh power plant, according to the news agency. Gas flows have been stopped and repair work to return the pipeline into operation will begin when the fire is put out, it said.

A pipeline transporting crude to a refinery also in the Homs region was attacked Dec. 8, causing a fire and stopping the flow of oil, SANA said at the time.

Syria has been engulfed in a wave of protests calling for regime change since the beginning of the year. The government’s violent response to demonstrations by pro-reform revolts elsewhere in the Middle East has led the U.S. and European Union to impose additional sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad’s administration. Some sanctions target the Arab country’s energy industry.

Energy installations have previously been targeted during the unrest, mostly in Homs. A pipeline near the city was targeted on July 29, interrupting the flow of crude for two days, according to SANA.

Syria, which is trying to halt a decline in its crude production, pumped 103 million barrels of oil in the first nine months of 2011, averaging 378,091 barrels a day, the Oil Ministry said Nov. 22. That’s 2.4 percent less than in the year-earlier period.

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