Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Iraq resumes pumping of oil from Kirkuk to Ceyhan

(AP) -- Iraq's oil minister said Tuesday that crude oil began to flow from his country's northern oil-rich Kirkuk to a Turkish export terminal last week - for the first time since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003. "We're pumping between 300,000 to 400,000 barrels a day of Kirkuk crude to the Turkish export terminal of Ceyhan," Hussain al-Shahristani told Dow Jones Newswires in a telephone interview from Baghdad.
The pipeline - Iraq's main export route from Kirkuk to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan - has been mostly closed because of constant sabotage since the U.S.-led war. Two weeks ago, Iraq agreed with Syria to repair and subsequently reopen another key pipeline, a 550-mile-long link connecting Kirkuk and the Syrian port of Baniyas. Once the Baniyas line - built in the 1950s but bombed by U.S. forces during the invasion that ousted Saddam - is reopened, Iraq would be using two terminals on the Mediterranean Sea. Currently, Iraq exports nearly all its oil through the Persian Gulf.
Al-Shahristani told Dow Jones that Iraq's current production capacity from its northern oil fields stands at 700,000 barrels a day, of which about 300,000 barrels a day are destined for a refinery in the nearby northern industrial city of Beiji for domestic use. The remainder is for export.
Last week, Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization announced a tender to sell 5 million barrels of Kirkuk crude through Turkey's Ceyhan port - the third tender of its kind this year. "As far as I know, we have over 5 million (barrels) of crude stocks in Ceyhan," al-Shahristani said.
He said he expected Iraq to maintain the same level of exports from its northern fields, citing new measures to prevent sabotage of pipelines. He said the measures include dispatching a security force, made up of tribesmen from the area and affiliated with his ministry, to guard the pipelines.

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