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Attacks halt Kurdish oil exports

Semi-autonomous Kurdish government says exports help fund efforts to combat terrorism.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Attacks halt Kurdish oil exports
Kurdish government says attacks on crude oil export infrastructure starves it of the revenue needed to combat terrorism. File photo by Mohammed al Jumaily/UPI | License Photo

ERBIL, Iraq, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- The Kurdish government in northern Iraq said crude oil exports from the region were interrupted because of attacks on a pipeline across the border in Turkey.

"The Ministry of Natural Resources condemns the theft attempts and the perpetrators of this sabotage inside Turkey and calls for better controls to immediately stop their actions, which cause harm to our people in Iraqi Kurdistan," the government said in a statement Thursday.

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The semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government confirmed the flow of oil from the region to the Turkish sea port of Ceyhan was halted Tuesday because of an attack on an export pipeline.

The attack occurred near Sanliurfa in Turkey, less than 70 miles from the northern border with Iraq.

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The region is plagued by violence attributed to Islamic State militants and, separately, to the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, known by its Kurdish acronym PKK. The Kurdish government assigned no blame for the attack and it does not appear to be related to Wednesday's attack on military personnel near the Turkish capital.

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. Last year, the Kurdish government estimated attacks on export arteries cost it around $500 million.

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With the federal government in Baghdad falling short of distributing budgetary concessions to its Kurdish counterpart, the KRG said funding that supports its efforts to combat terrorism is falling short.

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"With the drop in the global oil price, the KRG is already struggling to pay the salaries of its brave Peshmerga and other security forces from its oil export revenue," the Kurdish government said. "These attacks only make the battle against terrorism harder."

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