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Iraq Resumes Oil Exports From Kirkuk Under U.S. Pressure


Pipelines at the Bai Hassan oil field, west of Kirkuk in Iraq.

Under pressure from Washington, Iraq has restarted exports of oil from Kirkuk that were halted a year ago due to a standoff between the central government and Iraq's Kurdish semiautonomous region.

The U.S. government has been urging both sides to settle a dispute over the oil and resume flows to help address a shortage of Iranian crude after Washington imposed sanctions on Tehran's oil sector last week.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Twitter on November 16 that the resumption of exports of Kirkuk oil was "another important step in our efforts to reduce Iran's oil exports."

Washington granted Baghdad a 45-day waiver from the sanctions as long as it came up with a plan to wean itself off of Iranian-imported gas and electricity.

Flows resumed at a modest level of around 50,000-60,000 barrels per day compared with a peak of 300,000 barrels seen last year, industry sources said.

The Kirkuk crude is being exported to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan through a pipeline crossing the Kurdish province.

A spokesman for Iraq's Oil Ministry, Asim Jihad, confirmed exports had restarted, adding that an agreement had been reached to resume flows at 50,000-100,000 barrels a day.

"The resumption of Kirkuk shipments of between 50,000 and 100,000 barrels per day will not add to Iraq's total exports," Jihad said.

Iraq is the OPEC oil cartel's second-largest exporter at 4.5 billion barrels per day. Oil exports make up almost all of the government's revenue, bringing in $8.5 billion last month.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP
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