Israel says a breached pipeline has caused a large oil spill in the southern part of the country.

Guy Samet, an Environment Ministry official in charge of southern Israel, told local media that Thursday’s spill near the Red Sea port of Eilat could take months to clean up.

The spill occurred when the pipeline, linking Eilat to the port city of Ashkelon on the Mediterranean Sea, burst.

The pipeline opened in the 1960s to facilitate the movement of Iranian oil from the Persian Gulf to European markets but since the rupture in Israeli-Iranian relations in 1979 has mostly been used to move oil and oil products from Eilat to different parts of Israel.

The spill occurred in a dramatic desert landscape featuring steeply rising cliffs near Israel’s border with Jordan.