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3 March 1999    
Oil-for-Food Background Information

 

Report from independent inspection agents (Saybolt)
based at Zakho, northern Iraq

On the evening of February 28th we were contacted by NOC Pipeline manager; Mr. Hamid Al Saddy, with a request to visit a communications repeater station - RS 6 the following morning. It was indicated to us at that time that the station had suffered damage as the result of a missile attack at approximately 1430 hrs on 28 February 1999. In accordance with the request, we attended at the site arriving at 0800 hrs on 1 March 1999.

RS 6 is one of eight communication stations set along the Iraqi segment of the IT (Iraq-Turkey) pipeline between IT 1 (Kirkuk) and MS 1 (Meter Station 1 - Zakho). RS 6 distance from IT 1 is 236.669 Km, situated between pump stations IT 2 and IT 2A. This system is further continued on the Turkish side of the line.

The oil flow through the length of the system (Kirkuk to Ceyhan) is computer operated and controlled from either Kirkuk (IT 1) and/or Ceyhan terminal.

The data readouts in either control room allow for valve operation, pressure and temperature control along the various stages of the line (pump booster stations), from those control rooms. Without full data information at either control centre to monitor the entire system, each control room is effectively blind, losing operational control with subsequent impact on safety. The shutdown of RS 6 breaks the communications chain; loss of readout data and thus operational control.

After the initial shutdown of the line due to the communications failure at RS 1, an attempt was made to operate the line manually. This attempt was aborted as operationally unfeasible.

RS 6 Damage Report

The facility comprises four units.

Fuel Storage. (LPG cylinders).

Thermal generator room.

Battery Storage bunker. (Weather protected). Microwave tower. (Height approx. 75 meters).

Units are located within wire perimeter fence; area approx. 40 square meters. The oil pipeline runs approx. 60 meters outside the facility, lying due NE.

Fuel Storage

A mixture of propane and butane is used as fuel feed, delivered by truck and stored in two large cylinders of approximately 5 cubic meters each. The cylinders lie horizontally adjacent to each other, with access tops exposed through a cement wall. The body of the cylinders are covered behind the cement wall with rubble, forming an above ground bunker.

The access tops have centre internal access plates with bolted blind flange, gas supply pipework and gauges. These exposed caps are protected from direct sunlight a by steel framed canopy.

The entire surface of the cement wall and more specifically the exposed storage cylinder tops and immediate pipework shows significant heat and fire damage. The left side cylinder top shell has been holed in two places at the lower right, (5 o'clock). Each hole approx. 7 cm in diameter. The shell thickness measured at 3 cm. Further pitting of cylinder shell and access plates is evident.

Gauges and pipework extending from the cylinder top exhibit holing and pitting to significant degree, including deformation and heat/fire damage. The steel sunlight protection canopy is buckled and corrugated tin roofing is missing.

Pipework from the fuel storage leads to the thermal generator room, sited some 12 meters to the front right of the gas storage cylinders. Damage to the leading pipework, valves and gauges becomes less severe leading away from the storage cylinders.

Thermal Generator Room

Generation of power to maintain electrical supply to battery storage, is effected by gas fed thermal generators. Sixteen generators, housed in five towers produced the specific voltage requirements for this purpose.

These were housed in a room approximately 10 x 5 meters.

The thermal generator room has been completely demolished, only the cement base exists with short stubs of wall and roof support sitting proud of the floor.

The generator support towers and the generators themselves are strewn in a wide arc mainly from point north through to point west. The evident explosion has caused them to rip away the perimeter fencing to the NW and some were found trapped in the western corner of the south facing perimeter fence, a distance of approximately 25 - 30 meters away. One support tower frame has lodged itself against the cement wall of the gas storage cylinders to the left side. Further framing was found at the battery storage bunker area, which is in a southerly direction. Electrical power supply to the battery storage bunker from the generator room is underground and thus not accessible for inspection.

Battery Storage Bunker

This is essentially an underground battery storage room accessed via an ullage-type, domed hatch plate. This was padlocked at the time of inspection with no access available apart from a small opening which provided limited visibility. Above ground the area is weather protected by a half covered steel framed housing. The floor has a cement perimeter, pebble stone cover within. The bunker access hatch sits approx. one meter proud of the ground. There is also an air ventilation/filter unit adjacent.

The weather protection framing still stands, though is leaning and exhibits holing and pitting from shrapnel. All corrugated tin wall and roof panels are missing. The bunker access hatch has been holed and pitted, as has the ventilation unit. Framing and pipework from the generator room lies across the pebbled floor area.

Microwave Tower

The tower stands immediately to the SE of the battery supply bunker, slightly behind the face of the gas storage cylinders, which must have offered some protection from the main explosion.

Damage of pitting and breakage to the cables and cable protection covers was observed up to a height of about 12 to 15 meters. The tower itself did not appear to be significantly damaged in structure.

Heat damage may be a possible problem to cabling higher up which could not be accessed at the time of inspection.

General Observations

The main debris of corrugated tin panels were strewn in all directions around the area. Further debris of the actual thermo generators and their tower framing, as described above. The main centres of damage are the gas supply cylinder heads and leading pipework to the generator room. These facilities took the main effect of the explosion. The gas storage would appear to be beyond any repair and the generator facility no longer exists.

Damage to the battery, electrical supply to the system and the tower itself would appear to be less severe and repair assessments may prove positive. Thus the significant damage to this facility is in the generation of the specific power needs for the batteries.

AIN ZALAH

At 1400 hrs on 2 March 1999, Mr. Salah, our NOC liaison for Saybolt Zakho arrived at MS 1 by car. He carried a request from Mr. Al Fatal, NOC Pipeline Manager, that we immediately attend their 'Ain Zalah communications centre' to inspect alleged missile damage to that facility. Saybolt attended in accordance with this request, arriving at Ain Zalah at approx. 17:30 hours on 3 March 1999.

Location

Ain Zalah for purposes of the Iraq / Turkey pipeline, is a communications repeater station serving the same function as RS 6. It is upstream toward the Turkish side, operating between RS 7 and RS 8. RS 8 being the last repeater station on the Iraqi side of the pipeline. Pump station IT 2A is also situated between RS 7 and RS 8 on the pipeline. Ain Zalah lies some 15 kilometres to the NNE of the pipeline, some 80 kilometres NW of Mossel and 5 kilometres from the acknowledged boarders of Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. It is in fact quite close to MS 1, though with the intervention of the Tigris River, road access must be via Mossel.

Function

In addition to the role as a repeater station for IT (Iraq/Turkey) pipeline data communication, Ain Zalah performs two further communications functions.

MS 1 currently operates outside the normal data communications, maintained by the system of repeater stations. There is no data communication or monitoring of MS 1 information to the IT 1 or Ceyhan control centres. A verbal only communication link with IT 1 control room is maintained via an exchange at Ain Zalah. Its main significance to the IT system apart from its role as a repeater station, was the planned link from MS 1 to Ain Zalah, to bring MS 1 back into the system. New equipment for this purpose has arrived, but installation remains incomplete.

Secondly, the establishment of Ain Zalah is based on the crude oil produced from its fields. Most of the crude is refined in a small local refinery, though we understand they are able to inject some surplus crude into the IT line. Ain Zalah control therefore provides the main communication control for these operations.

Facility

In relation to the IT pipeline, there are two significant facilities.

- Microwave antenna tower.

- Main communications control room.

Both above facilities are situated on a rising slope. The control room stands at the base of the tower. An access road runs between the two.

The antenna tower stands approx. 75 meters in height. Four dish antenna plus ancillary equipment maintain the link between RS 7 and RS 8.

The main control room houses the IT system facility; battery storage; stand-by generators; Ain Zalah (Telefunken) telephone exchange; office, equipment storage and maintenance areas. In addition to the installed equipment for normal operations of the facility, within the equipment storage area were stored the new Bosch Telecom equipment. Four microwave receiving and transmission dishes, microwave communication receiver/transmitter hardware units and ancillary equipment. (These to form the link with MS 1).

Power to the IT communication system was by mains AC to rectifier for step-down to the 48 Volt battery recharging requirements.

Damage Report

The central control room has been completely destroyed. All building and related equipment has been strewn over an area of 50 - 80 meters towards the front face of the location. A small ravine at the base of the hill has caught units like a 2 meter diameter microwave antennas, which are buckled and deformed. It would appear doubtful that any of the equipment from this facility would be of further use. Packing cases of the new Bosch equipment were found split open, their contents open to the elements, rubble inside. The Telefunken telephone exchange equipment cabinets have been burst open, with circuitry dislodged from its housing and strewn along with building rubble.

The actual fabric of the building was mud brick with gypsum rendering, built by the British in 1952 as part of the Mossel Petroleum Company project. This is totally destroyed.

Reports of those present state that the first missile took out the control room. A second missile followed some eight minutes later. The second missile appears to have hit in the access road that lay between the control room and tower. A crater approximately 10 meters in diameter and 6 meters deep has been formed exposing the front face of the concrete foundation to the Antenna tower.

Damage to the cement tower foundation is evident as a bore hole at the base, some 6-7 meters from the ground level base for the tower legs. A crack in the cement can be seen running up through the face of the foundation to its top at ground level. A medium size chip of cement has been gouged from the ground level at the top of the cement foundation block.

The tower itself has taken a shock sufficient to sheer the bolts securing cross bar supports. These are now hanging perpendicular, suspended from one end only. This may underlie the possibility of further fragmental damage to the structure. Also shock damage to attached tower equipment.

The cabling support grids, from the control room to the tower have also been destroyed. The support framing has been buckled and the cables broken and heat damaged.

At the time of inspection the tower appeared upright to the eye, the four main supports running up from the base appeared visually true. A full structural survey may well find renovation only is required.

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Produced for media and public information not an official United Nations Document
For further information please contact Hasmik Egian, OIP - NY, 1.212.963.4341