In more troubling news for the Iraqi oil industry, the northern pipeline to Turkey is down once again. Originally a department head in the North Oil Company that is in charge of the pipeline reported that there was a blast in Ninewa province that knocked it out of service. Later, officials said the problem was a leak that occurred at a point that had previously been bombed. It’s supposed to take 2-3 days to repair the line.
This is only the latest incident to afflict the northern pipeline. Earlier in August and in July the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) blew up sections of the line in Turkey shutting it down. In July, technical problems closed down operations, and June and April insurgents and oil smugglers had at it as well.
The Turkish pipeline was largely out of service until 2007 because of insurgent attacks, but since then has carried an average of 25% of Iraq’s petroleum exports due to improved security. With all the problems in 2010 however, that has been cut. In July 2010 for example, the line carried an average of 374,000 barrels a day, 20% of overall exports for the month. Insurgents and smugglers are finding holes in the Pipeline Exclusion Zone that protects most of the northern line, while the lack of maintenance and deteriorating infrastructure is causing breakdowns and leaks. It’s for those reasons that northern oil fields received little attention by international companies during the two bidding rounds in 2009, and the Oil Ministry is focusing most of their plans for expansion in the southern section of the country.
Aswat al-Iraq, “Turkey-bound pipeline repair starts – source,” 8/21/10
Bloomberg, “Iraq oil exports via Turkey resume after blast,” 8/22/10
Hafidh, Hassan, “Iraq July Oil Exports -0.16% On Month At 1.820 Million B/D – Official,” Dow Jones 8/9/10
Reuters, “Iraq resumes pumping oil on pipeline to Turkey,” 7/4/10
- “UPDATE 1-Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline flow halted-Iraq oil source,” 8/21/10
Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 7/30/10