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Saudi Gas Pipeline Explosion Kills 28

November 18, 2007

By SEBASTIAN ABBOT

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – An accidental explosion and fire on a natural gas pipeline in eastern Saudi Arabia on Sunday killed 28 people and left 12 missing, Saudi officials said.

An unspecified number were wounded in the blaze, which did not disrupt gas supplies, Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told reporters during a summit of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Riyadh.

National oil company Saudi Aramco said the fire broke out just after midnight while contract workers were linking a new pipe to the line during maintenance work.

Aramco is the world’s largest oil producer, located on the country’s east coast. Its Hawiyah plant produces 310,000 barrels a day of ethane and liquefied natural gas.

“The company is taking all necessary measures to guarantee the continuation of the normal gas output,” the company said. An Aramco official contacted by The Associated Press declined further comment.

The fire occurred about 19 miles from the Hawiyah plant. Five Aramco employees were among the 28 who were killed, said the company, which did not provide information about the other workers.

A Saudi adviser to Saudi Arabia’s oil ministry said there was no link between the explosion and the OPEC summit. He said there was no question the fire was an accident and terrorism was ruled out.

“This is purely maintenance related,” the adviser said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.




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