Iran Investigates If Series of Oil Industry Accidents Were Caused by Cyber Attack

August 12, 2016

A series of fires and explosions in recent weeks has killed one and caused major damage

After weeks of speculation on the cause of an unprecedented string of fires and explosions in major Iranian oil and gas facilities, Iran’s Supreme National Cyberspace Council has said that it is looking into cyber-attacks as a possible cause. “Special teams will be sent to the afflicted sites to study the possibility of cyber systems having a role in the recent fires,” said Abolhasan Firoozabadi, secretary of the council according to local media on Wednesday.

The first of the fires, which started on July 6, in the Bouali petrochemical plant on the Persian Gulf coast, took three days to put out and threatened to send toxic clouds of smoke into the nearby city of Mahshahr, with a population of 300,000. There were no fatalities but damages are estimated to be tens of millions of dollars and insurers say it could be the biggest compensation claim in Iran’s history.

Less than 48 hours after the Bouali fire was put out a worker was killed in the Marun Oil and Gas Production Company when a liquefied gas pipeline exploded. This was followed by a fire in the Bisotoon petrochemical plant in the western Iranian city of Kermanshah on July 29, which took two days to put out.

The Iranian Petroleum Ministry, in charge of all of the affected sites denied the plants were sabotaged and the Iranian oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said the fires and explosions were due to technical faults and human error. However when an explosion in a gas pipeline near Gonaveh, which killed a worker, and another fire in the Imam Khomeini petrochemical plant, occurred within hours of each other on Aug. 6, the ministry refused to comment until after investigations.

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