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