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Iraq northern oil exports resume as refinery shuts down

(AFP) / 14 October 2006

KIRKUK, Iraq - Iraq has resumed exports of crude oil to the Turkish port of Ceyhan after an interruption of several months, according to an official of Iraq’s Northern Oil Company (NOC).

This good news for Iraq’s troubled oil industry came, however, as the largest refinery in the country was shut down for the fourth day running due to a lack of electricity.

“After several months of interruption, pumping resumed permanently following intermittent and irregular pumping over the past month,” said the NOC company executive, who asked not be identified for his own safety.

The interruption, stemmed from continuous attacks on the pipelines, problems with the storage facilities in Ceyhan and general deterioration of the pipelines due to age.

In June, the NOC also announced a resumption of exports to Turkey following a four-month hiatus, but the resulting flow was still sporadic.

This time around, however, the company is confident that increased security on the pipeline will ensure the exports remain steady.

The company managed to get a consistent flow going by Thursday night and now the pipeline is carrying 250,000-350,000 barrels per day

Most of Iraq’s oil production, some two million bpd, comes from the south, although international experts agree that the northern fields are under-developed.

The news came at the same time that the massive Baiji refinery in central Iraq was shut down due to a breakdown of the nearby thermal power station.

“The Baiji refinery stopped its production of products for the fourth successive day due to electricity cuts,” said a refinery official.

Iraq suffers from a chronic shortage of gasoline, kerosene and other fuel products resulting in endless lines at the petrol stations.

When the Baiji refinery is working, Iraq produces 10 million litres of gasoline domestically, barely half of the 22 million litres daily demand.



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