Iraq’s output and refining capacity unaffected by violence, oil minister says

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Azzaman, July 21, 2014

Iraq’s oil output has accelerated this month despite ongoing violence, Oil Minister Abdulkareem al-Luaibi said.

The minister dismissed reports that the violence, which has shut down the country’s oil facilities in the north, was impacting the country’s export and refining capacity.

Militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have occupied oil fields in the Province of Nineveh of which Mosul is the capital as well as a few oil fields in the area of Baiji in the Province of Salahudeen.

Kurdish militias, known locally as peshmerga, have occupied the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, bringing production and exports from its oil fields to a halt.

The violence has forced the authorities to cease production from the country’s largest refining complex in Baiji. Iraqi troops defending the complex have repelled several attacks by ISIS.

However, Luaibi said the halt of production in the Baiji refineries with a capacity of more than 30,000 barrels a day, has had little influence on the availability of fuel in Iraq.

“We have massive reserves of fuel and are also compensating the loss of production from Baiji via imports,” he said. “Oil projects, including schemes meant to increase output have not been affected.”

The minister said the security situation at oil fields in the south, the country’s most prolific, was stable.

Despite mounting violence in the northern and western parts of the country, the minister said the oil-rich south was quiet, enabling the ministry to proceed ahead with plans to increase output.

He said Iraq’s daily output in July surged to 3.15 million barrels with 2.6 million reserved for exports, the highest exports level since the 2003-U.S. invasion.