Saboteurs hit Iraq's northern oil pipeline, halting exports

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Apr. 23 -- Iraqi oil exports have been cut due to sabotage along the northern pipeline system, according to officials who say repairs could take up to a week. The 970-km line transports crude oil from the country’s Kirkuk fields to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

“The export pipeline is damaged and oil flow to the Turkish export terminal [at] Ceyhan has been halted,” said one Iraqi official. Another said oil flow had stopped due to an explosion in Al-Hadhar, 80 km south of Mosul.

“We are sure now that it was sabotage, not a technical failure…. The time frame to fix the pipeline and resume pumping oil is about a week,” said one Iraqi oil official, who added, “The pipeline was attacked.”

As a result, officials halted loadings of oil at Ceyhan, where storage was variously reported to be down to 300,000-650,000 bbl.

The line carried 450,000 b/d in this year’s first quarter, just under 25% of Iraq's 2 million b/d of exports. The rest of Iraq’s oil exports exit the country via the southern terminal at Basra on the Persian Gulf.

In March, Iraq's oil exports fell to 1.79 million b/d from 2.083 million b/d in February, including an average of 1.380 million b/d from Basra and 410,000 b/d from the northern oil fields around Kirkuk.

While rebels from Turkey’s outlawed Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan (PKK) have been responsible for previous attacks on the Turkish section of the pipeline, Iraqi police believe Sunni militants were responsible for this week’s attack, aiming to weaken the Shi'a-led government in Baghdad.

The Baghdad government relies almost exclusively on its oil export revenues to run its budget and fund the postwar reconstruction effort.

Some reports suggested, however, that al-Qaeda militants may have been responsible for the attack, aiming to avenge the Apr. 20 killing of Ahmed al-Obeidi, also known as Abu Suheib, who was responsible for planning terrorist attacks in northern Iraq.

Military officials said al-Obeidi was killed in a joint US-Iraqi operation, becoming the third senior al-Qaeda commander killed since Apr. 18 by Iraqi and US forces. Observers underlined the fact that Al-Hadhar, location of this week’s bombing, was the base for al-Obeidi’s operations.

Regardless of the perpetrator, analyst BMI said, “The energy industry and the Kurdish regional government are both hopeful that this most recent pipeline attack proves to be a blip in the current trend rather than the start of a new upsurge in violence.”

Insurgents operating in Iraq following the US-led invasion in March 2003 carried out an estimated 500 attacks against the country’s infrastructure, especially targeting the northern oil export pipelines in an effort to weaken the postwar government.

Attacks against Iraq’s oil infrastructure have fallen off since 2007 when the government began to implement security measures.

Still, in late 2007, Iraq's 110,000-b/d Doura refinery burst into flames after being hit by a Katyusha rocket, starting a fire that sent a large plume of black smoke into the sky (OGJ Online, Dec. 11, 2007).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

Related Articles

Iraqi oil export pipeline hit by saboteurs

11/25/2009 Iraq’s exports of oil to Turkey’s Mediterraneann port of Ceyhan have been stopped due to sabotage along a pipeline in the country&rsquo...

Turkey pipeline blast rekindles security concerns

11/07/2008 Oil has resumed flowing through one of the twin Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipelines following an explosion on one of the lines near the town of Bozova, in the ...

Iraq approves CNPC contract for Adhab oil field

09/03/2008 Iraq has approved a $3 billion contract awarded last week by the ministry of oil to Chinese National Petroleum Co. (CNPC) to develop and produce Ad...

CNPC to develop Ahdab oil field in Iraq

08/30/2008 The Iraqi Ministry of Oil, renegotiating an agreement first signed more than a decade ago, has approved arrangements that will allow state-owned Ch...

MARKET WATCH: Weak dollar, low inventories raise energy prices

03/27/2008 Crude and gasoline prices surged Mar. 26 on the New York futures market after a segment of the Department of Energy reported a large draw in gasoli...

MARKET WATCH: Crude prices continue to fall

03/25/2008 Crude prices continued to fall Mar. 24 amid continued worries about slowing energy demand and the recovery of the US dollar from recent lows agains...

MARKET WATCH: Prices rebound with Turkish incursion into Iraq

02/25/2008 Crude prices rebounded Feb. 22 as Turkey launched its first major ground incursion in nearly a decade against Kurdish rebel bases in Iraq.

MARKET WATCH
NYMEX closed to mourn Ford

01/03/2007 Floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange was closed Jan. 2 to observe a day of mourning for former President Gerald Ford, but energy price...

Kuwait planning gas production by 2008

11/21/2006 Kuwait, which in March announced the discovery of 35 tcf of free natural gas and a large quantity of light oil in what it called its "northern oil ...

White Papers

AVEVA NET Accesses and Manages the Digital Asset

Global demand for new process plants, power plants and infrastructure is increasing steadily with the ...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Approach for the Digital Asset

To meet the requirements for leaner project execution and more efficient operations while transferring...
Sponsored by

Diversification - the technology aspects

In tough times, businesses seek to diversify into adjacent markets or to apply their skills and resour...
Sponsored by

Engineering & Design for Lean Construction

Modern marketing rhetoric claims that, in order to cut out expensive costs and reduce risks during the...
Sponsored by

Object Lessons - Why control of engineering design at the object level is essential for efficient project execution

Whatever the task, there is usually only one way to do it right and many more to do it wrong. In the c...
Sponsored by

Plant Design for Lean Construction - at your fingertips

One area which can provide improvements to the adoption of Lean principles is the application of mobil...
Sponsored by

How to Keep Your Mud System Vibrator Hose from Getting Hammered to Death

To prevent the vibrating hoses on your oilfield mud circulation systems from failing, you must examine...
Sponsored by

Duty of Care

Good corporate social responsibility means implementing effective workplace health and safety measures...
Sponsored by

Available Webcasts


On Demand

Optimizing your asset management practices to mitigate the effects of a down market

Thu, Dec 11, 2014

The oil and gas market is in constant flux, and as the price of BOE (Barrel of Oil Equivalent) goes down it is increasingly important to optimize your asset management strategy to stay afloat.  Attend this webinar to learn how developing a solid asset management plan can help your company mitigate costs in any market.

register:WEBCAST


Parylene Conformal Coatings for the Oil & Gas Industry

Thu, Nov 20, 2014

In this concise 30-minute webinar, participants have an opportunity to learn more about how Parylene coatings are applied, their features, and the value they add to devices and components.

register:WEBCAST


Utilizing Predictive Analytics to Optimize Productivity in Oil & Gas Operations

Tue, Nov 18, 2014

Join IBM on Tuesday, November 18 @ 1pm CST to explore how Predictive Analytics can help your organization maximize productivity, operational performance & associated processes to drive enterprise wide productivity and profitability.

register:WEBCAST


US HYDROCARBON EXPORTS Part 3 — LNG

Fri, Nov 14, 2014

US LNG Exports, the third in a trilogy of webcasts focusing on the broad topic of US Hydrocarbon Exports.

A discussion of the problems and potential for the export of US-produced liquefied natural gas.

These and other topics will be discussed, with the latest thoughts on U.S. LNG export policy.

register:WEBCAST


Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected