ERBIL, Iraq, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- The Kurdish government in northern Iraq said the flow of crude oil to a Turkish sea port was halted because of theft at the start of a Muslim holy day.
On Thursday, Muslims honored the holy day of Eid al-Adha. The semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government said saboteurs targeted a crude oil pipeline running north to the Turkish sea port at Ceyhan.
No repair crews were on duty because of the holy day. Crews are expected at the site Friday, though no estimate of a return to service is available, the government said.
The Kurdish government credits crude oil exports through Turkey as a necessary economic lifeline.
"Revenue from crude oil export through the pipeline to Ceyhan represents the Kurdistan Region's main means of survival," it said. "Without such revenue, salaries of [the Kurdish military apparatus] Peshmerga, the security forces and other key government workers cannot get paid."
A section of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline, running from northern Iraq to Turkish ports, was bombed in southern Sirnak province in Turkey in late July. The pipeline has a maximum capacity of around 400,000 barrels of oil per day and serves as a main artery for the export of oil from the Kurdish north of Iraq.
The Kurdish Ministry of Natural Resources said attacks, as well as pilfering, on the pipeline are a threat to the welfare of its constituents. By the government's estimates, from July 1 to August 17, about $500 million in revenue was lost as a result of such attacks.
The Turkish government blamed the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party, known by its Kurdish initials PKK, for the July attacks. The PKK operates along the northern border with Iraq and the southern border of Turkey.
No blame was assigned for the latest crude oil theft. The government, in its latest statement, called on the perpetrators and their supporters to "immediately halt the theft of oil from the pipeline carrying crude oil from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq."