One crude unit that was in maintenance at Iraq’s biggest refinery will restart ahead of schedule to compensate output lost in a sabotage attack two days ago, said Asim Jihad, a spokesman for the Oil Ministry.
Iraq will also import fuel from neighboring producers to boost stockpiles after operations at the refinery in the northern city of Baiji were partially halted after a bombing on Feb 26 which affected two out of four crude units at the plant, he said by phone from Bagdad today. Jihad declined to name the countries it would buy the products from.
The damage to the refinery did not affect production at Iraq’s power plants which run on imported diesel, said Masaab Serri Al-Mudarress, a spokesman for the Electricity Ministry. The country suffers from power shortages and rationing can exceed more than 15 hours per day.
Four engineers were killed in the first direct assault on the refinery since violent attacks by militants engulfed the country following the 2003 invasion. Iraq, which holds the world’s fifth-biggest oil reserves, needs to import about a quarter of its refined product needs, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Output at the 250,000 barrel-a-day Baiji complex, which processes crude into diesel and gasoline, fell by 150,000 barrels after the attack. Apart from the production unit under maintenance due to restart within a few days, a fourth unit was undamaged and continues to process up to 60,000 barrels a day.
The government plans to increase production from the Ash Shaabiya refinery in Basra to cover shortages, Jihad said.
Iraq also started the Samawa refinery at a capacity of 30,000 barrels a day after a precautionary stoppage, state-run National Media Center reported, citing Jihad. The stoppage was due to a technical fault at a storage unit, it said.
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