Iraq looks to bypass Strait of Hormuz

March 19, 2012 at 8:57 AM
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BAGHDAD, March 19 (UPI) -- Iraq is looking for options to export oil from the country to allay concerns related to Iran, a government spokesman said.

Iraqi lawmakers last week called on the Oil Ministry to look for alternatives because of political tensions in the region. A committee in the Iraqi Parliament called for talks related to an oil pipeline to Saudi Arabia that was shut down after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the Iraqi government, said the Cabinet has approved several options meant as alternatives to shipping oil through the Strait of Hormuz, CNN reported, citing an Arabic-language statement.

Iraq, he said, could ship more oil to Turkish ports through pipelines running through the north or reopen pipelines running to Syrian and Lebanese ports.

Much of Iraq's infrastructure was neglected in part due to sanctions imposed on Saddam Hussein's government. Some of the country's pipelines were closed by war.

Iran has threatened to close key oil shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz if the country is pressured further regarding its nuclear program. U.S. and European sanctions because of Tehran's unclear nuclear ambitions target Iran's financial sector.

Around 80 percent of Iraq's exports, among the approximately 20 percent of the world's total oil production, is moved through the strait.

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