Iraqi Kurds, Turkey Work to Double Oil Export Pipeline Capacity

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Backed by U.S. air support, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have enjoyed several recent successes in northern Iraq. But they have largely failed to protect frightened populations, who have abandoned entire towns, with no intention of ever returning. Bloomberg's Willem Marx reports. (Source: Bloomberg)

The Kurdish regional government in Iraq and Turkey are working to at least double the capacity of a pipeline that allows the Kurds to export crude oil, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz and an industry official said.

A second pump has been installed near Fishkabur in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region to speed up the injection of Kurdish oil into the main Iraq-Turkey pipeline, according to the industry official with knowledge of the work who asked not to be named, citing policy. Turkey is also upgrading the part of the pipe that runs to its Mediterranean terminal at Ceyhan, he said today in an interview

The added pumping strength “would double the flow of oil from 100,000 to 125,000 barrels per day in the first stage,” Yildiz said in an interview in Ankara. “It would be good if the daily supply capacity can reach 250,000 barrels and even exceed that.” Calls to the press office of the Kurdish administration’s Ministry of Natural Resources either didn’t connect or weren’t answered.

Turkey has been allowing the sale of Kurdish oil through Ceyhan since May, dismissing legal action by the Iraqi federal government, which calls the trade illegal. For the Kurds, whose armed forces have played a central role in countering an Islamist insurgency in northern Iraq over the past three months, the oil pipe offers an economic lifeline as they consider moves to fuller independence from Baghdad.

Oil isn’t currently being pumped from northern Iraq due to some “work related to pipes,” Yildiz said, without elaborating. The industry official said the oil flow may resume within days after Turkey and the Kurdish regional government finish the upgrade to the pipeline.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ali Berat Meric in Ankara at americ@bloomberg.net; Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at shacaoglu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alaa Shahine at asalha@bloomberg.net Mark Williams, Leon Mangasarian

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