Iraq's Kurds Resume Pumping Oil by Pipeline to Turkish Port

Updated on
  • Kurd region exported 264,000 barrels a day before brief halt
  • Latest stoppage came after Iraq retook Kirkuk area from Kurds

Three Charts to Know: How Oil Is Moving in Iraq

Oil exports resumed from Iraq’s Kurdish region after halting earlier Monday, a port agent said, highlighting uncertainty about pipeline shipments from OPEC’s second-biggest producer.

Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurds began pumping oil again to Ceyhan, Turkey, at about 1:25 p.m. local time after Kurdish crude stopped arriving at the Mediterranean port at 4 a.m. the port agent said by email. The amount of oil flowing wasn’t immediately available, the agent said. 

The halt came days after Iraqi troops captured oil fields from Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq’s disputed Kirkuk province. Shipments by pipeline averaged 264,000 barrels a day before the stoppage, less than half their normal daily level of 600,000 barrels. Exports from Kirkuk, which had been flowing through the same pipeline network to Ceyhan, remained halted as of Monday, the port agent said.
 
The central government rejected a Kurdish independence referendum in September and sent troops earlier this month to capture oil-rich Kirkuk from Kurdish forces. The government had started pumping crude last week from the Avana field in Kirkuk through a pipeline operated by the Kurdistan Regional Government. It was the first sign of a recovery in output from Kirkuk, a long-standing flashpoint between Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen communities.

Any increase in production from northern Iraq could put pressure on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allied producers as they seek to rein in a global supply glut and prop up prices. Kirkuk holds Iraq’s oldest producing fields, while the KRG says the self-governed Kurdish region could hold 45 billion barrels of crude reserves, more than OPEC member Nigeria. Iraq pumps most of its 4.47 million barrels a day from southern oil fields, shipping it by sea from the Persian Gulf port of Basra.

— With assistance by Julian Lee

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