Iraq oil ministry still waiting for new boss

BAGHDAD- Iraq's oil ministry is getting ready to resume operations in this vital sector for reconstruction, but it is still waiting for a leader, a senior ministry official said.

By (AFP)

Published: Mon 28 Apr 2003, 1:19 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 7:45 PM

Some 20 per cent of the ministry's staff in Baghdad have returned to work, as well as 75 per cent of staff at the capital's refinery, in the southwestern suburb of Al Dora, said the official.

"We are waiting for somebody with clear authority, someone who is authorised to spend" and repair the damage done, he said.

The former minister, general Amer Rasheed, is on the list of wanted Iraqi officials and has not been heard of since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, when US forces captured the capital on April 9. The New York Times said on Friday the Pentagon had begun sending a team of Iraqi exiles to Baghdad to take up positions at each of the 23 ministries.

The senior Iraqi at the oil ministry will be Muhammed Ali Zainy, an engineer, said the newspaper. Oil sources here said Zainy was in charge of the finance department of the ministry when he left Iraq in the 1980s.

The Iraqi oil official said the ministry building was looted after the fall of the capital, but US forces moved quickly to stop it being set on fire, unlike many other government departments.

"All the computers, all the furniture are gone, the rest is destroyed. But it is better than the other ministries.

"We found bottles filled with cotton and alcohol in many offices. Someone was preparing to set the building on fire and then changed his mind or was prevented from doing so," he added.

US forces stand guard around the ministry and the workers who have returned are mainly cleaning their offices, said the official.

The Al Dora refinery resumed operations one week ago, and staffing is high because most of its workers live in a nearby residential complex, he explained. The refinery is now running at 30 to 40 per cent of its 80,000 to 100,000 barrel per day (bpd) capacity. Efforts are under way to replenish depleting stocks with crude stored in the northern oil region of Kirkuk.

"The Kirkuk-Baghdad pipeline is damaged, but we succeeded in finding an alternative route. We have to check that this route is OK and re-establish communications with Kirkuk to start pumping."

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