Baghdad reviews options to export oil north through Turkey

Iraq wants to send oil north from Kirkuk in a move that may be a message to the Kurdish region.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Oct. 10, 2017 at 9:16 AM
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Oct. 10 (UPI) -- An oil company working in the north of Iraq is called on to overhaul an export pipeline that runs from Kirkuk to a Turkish port, the government in Baghdad said.

A spokesman for the Iraqi Oil Ministry, Asim Jihad, said Tuesday the ministry called on the North Oil Co. to "speed up the implementation of the project to rehabilitate the oil pipeline network of crude oil after the victories achieved by our security forces."

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in late August that Nineveh province and its capital, Mosul, were liberated from the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, ISIS, and Daesh. That led the federal government to start a reconstruction campaign in the region after years of battling the terrorist threat.

The Oil Ministry wants the North Oil Co. to work on repairs on the artery running from oil fields in Kirkuk in northern Iraq to the Turkish port at Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea. That line is different from the one used by companies operating in the Kurdish region to send oil north.

Parts of the region are considered disputed territories with the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government.

Jihad said the line could carry between 250,000 barrels and 400,000 barrels per day, more or less on par with the capacity for the Kurdish pipeline to Ceyhan. The oil flag-planting in the north comes one week after calls to overhaul regional oil fields after Mosul's liberation.

Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi gave the order last week to rehabilitate the oil fields in northern Ninevah province with the goal of starting oil production in "the next few months." According to his spokesman, he gave the order to increase production to the point that it would "cover the local needs of the refineries, power stations and the liberated cities."

Luaibi at the time gave no indication that oil from Ninevah province would be sent to the foreign market.

The Kurdish region held a referendum for independence in late September. The move was contentious as Turkey, which is battling an insurgency from Kurdish militant groups, said it could close the border and stop the half million barrels of oil flowing from the Kurdish north every day.

So far, there are no indications oil operations in Kurdish territory have been impacted since the referendum. The Iraqi Oil Ministry said meetings were held Monday with Turkish officials to review ways to facilitate Iraqi oil exports through the north.

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