Iraq oil exports officially resume to Turkey

Apr 19, 2005 02:00 AM

Iraq has officially resumed crude oil exports to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, a State Oil Marketing Organization official said.
Oil exports through Turkey, previously averaging 350,000 bpd from Kirkuk oil fields some 250 km (160 miles) north of Baghdad, have repeatedly been stopped by insurgency sabotage. In December, the tap was again shut off following an attack on a pipeline near Fathah, oil ministry spokesman Assim Jihad has said.

But an oil official acknowledged that, secretly, oil workers had managed to pump some 600,000 barrels to storage tanks in Turkey since the official close-down in December.
"We manage to push a few barrels through to our storage, but until now, we don't say much about it," the official said. "Whenever you report it, within one hour it will be bombed," the official said. "This will stimulate the appetite of the terrorists. We are frightened of them."

The SOMO official declined to give any new export statistics for security reasons. An oil ministry official said exports would resume at 400,000 bpd.
A newly formed oil protection force of at least 1,500 troops has been unable to stop regular attacks on oil infrastructure and pipelines around Kirkuk. In the latest attack, saboteurs set a pipeline ablaze that carries crude oil from Kirkuk fields to Baiji refinery about 180 km north of Baghdad.

According to the Iraqi government, the attacks have caused losses of between $ 7 and $ 8 bn and an untold amount of environmental damage.
Iraq's southern exports stand at about 1.6 mm bpd. The country exported about 2 mm bpd, under the UN-sponsored oil-for-food programme, before US-led troops invaded in March 2003.

Source: Agence France Presse
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