TBILISI, March 23 (The Conway Bulletin) — Georgian authorities broke up an oil smuggling operation near the village of Ruisi in central Georgia, highlighting the lack of security for infrastructures across the South Caucasus.
Smugglers were siphoning off crude oil from the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline, a BP-operated 800km-long pipeline that transports oil from Azerbaijan to the Georgian Black Sea terminal of Supsa.
Smugglers had installed a parallel pipeline that branched off the main trunk and fed trucks.
Major infrastructure projects in the South Caucasus often appear fragile and vulnerable. In November, a fire at a data centre shut down the internet in Azerbaijan.
In 2011, an elderly woman damaged a major fibre-optic cable while digging for copper in a rural Georgian village, cutting internet access in Armenia.
Last year, too, rebels from the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia, which has proclaimed independence, grabbed control of a section of the Baku-Supsa pipeline.
This story was first published in issue 273 of The Conway Bulletin — an indepedent newspaper coveirng Central Asia and the South Caucasus.