Iraq’s petrochemical industries grind to a halt for lack of fuel

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By Tamara Abdulrazzaq

Azzaman, February 25, 2014

Iraq’s once flourishing petrochemical industries have come to a grinding halt due to lack of fuel, a statement issued by the State Company for Petrochemical Industries said.

The statement, faxed to the newspaper, said the company ceased production shortly after the 2003-U.S. invasion. It only partially resumed operations only to have them halted three years ago.

The statement said the Oil Ministry has failed to supply the company with gas, which is necessary to operate its power stations and factories.

“The company has been facing lack of fuel in sufficient quantities since 2003 until its operations came to a complete halt in 2011,” the statement signed by the company’s Director-General Salim Ibrahim said.

The statement said the supply of fuel was erratic and it rarely exceeded one third of needs.

It said the company had several meetings with the Oil Ministry to boost the supply of fuel, but so far they have come to nothing.

“The company is ready to resume at full capacity once fuel supplies of gas are made available,” the statement said.

Iraq built its largest and only petrochemical facility in the southern Province of Basra in 1977. It was the only producing petrochemical complex in the country before fuel shortages forced to stop.

It has six major plants with a capacity to meet the country’s needs and with surplus for exports.

Iraq currently imports most of its petrochemicals, mainly from Iran. Iraq’s fuel import bill is estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars a year.