A view from multiple gas pipeline explosions in western Iran (February 2024)

‘Sabotage Attacks’ On Iran’s Gas Pipelines Cause Major Disruptions

Wednesday, 02/14/2024

The scale of damage and disruption caused by multiple gas pipeline explosions in Iran became increasingly apparent on Wednesday, as homes and industries in several large provinces were impacted.

The Iranian Ministry of Petroleum attributed the explosions along gas pipelines in multiple regions of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari and Fars provinces to sabotage operations by “destructive elements and enemy conspiracies” aimed at disrupting gas supply to major provinces.

Sa'id Agheli, the director of Iran's Gas Network Operations Center, described the explosions as "terrorist sabotage acts." The explosions occurred around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, February 14th, in the Halavayi-Boroujen bottleneck in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province and the Tang-e Qaderabad area in Khorrambid, located in the Safashahr region of Fars province.

Fars News Agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard, reported early Thursday that the targeted pipeline is the main conduit for transporting natural gas from refineries in the Persian Gulf to major cities including Tehran, Esfahan, and Mashhad. These explosions resulted in the closure of roads in the surrounding areas for hours, forcing residents of neighboring villages to spend hours on the streets due to fear as large flames engulfed the surrounding areas. Reports indicate that the sound of explosions and the glow of flames were visible within a radius of 60 kilometers, leading to the gas supply being cut off to dozens of villages.

Alborz Gas Company announced a partial gas shutdown in industrial zones of the province neighboring the capital Tehran. In northeast, schools were closed on Thursday, with remote learning, and gas supply to industries and government buildings were suspended until further notice. In Zanjan province, gas supply to government facilities was cut off, and industrial gas consumption was restricted. Lorestān Gas Company declared limitations on gas consumption for all governmental facilities, executive agencies, and industries in the western province.

Esfahan’s (Isfahan) Provincial Crisis Management announced gas supply restrictions for major industries in the province on Thursday morning.

Hours before the explosions, a leaked document from a cyberattack on the parliament revealed that the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council had predicted such incidents in a letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi in November. The letter warned about gas shortages resulting from imbalance between production and consumption. He cited dangers such as cyber threats, labor strikes, and sabotage in the energy network as potential risks to energy security amid gas shortages in the winter.

Since mid-2020, there have been multiple acts of sabotage in Iran targeting nuclear, energy, military and industrial sites. The Iranian government has blamed Israel and, in some cases, armed opposition groups, but it is almost certain that sophisticated operations are conducted by state actors.

As acts of sabotage occurred regularly, Khamenei ordered closer coordination between a hodgepodge of intelligence and security outfits in June 2023.

Iran’s natural gas production gradually declines due to lack of investments and technology, even though the country has the second largest reserves in the world. Officials have said in the past that the sector needs an investment of at least $40 billion to install larger production platforms, with stronger pumps, in the Persian Gulf, where Iran shares a huge underwater gas field with Qatar.

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