Fire shuts Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline

March 11, 2008 at 6:51 PM
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KIRKUK, Iraq, March 11 (UPI) -- A fire in Iraq's northern pipeline system has stopped oil exports from the Kirkuk oil field to Turkey.

Azzaman reports a Northern Oil Co. official said the fire was not an attack.

"The pumping of oil from the northern Kirkuk fields to the Turkish Ceyhan terminal has stopped due to the breakout of fire in one of the transporting pipelines," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding exports could start again as soon as Wednesday if firefighters are successful.

Iraq was sending 250,000 to 300,000 barrels per day to Ceyhan, Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told United Press International, with a short-term goal of 500,000 bpd.

The northern pipeline infrastructure was the scene of many insurgent attacks and smuggling operations, which kept the line largely out of order from the invasion until late summer 2007. A new security plan by Iraq has led to an increase in regular flow.

The Oil Ministry is also hiring locals to guard the pipelines as it stretches south and north, thinning the ranks of would-be insurgents.

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