News / Middle East

    Iraq: Syria War Spillover Hinders Oilfields, Pipelines

    Reuters
    Spillover attacks from the civil war in Syria have hindered development of Iraq's gas and oil reserves, and a major pipeline to the Mediterranean has been blown up dozens of times, Iraq's top energy official said on Tuesday.

    Violence in Iraq climbed back to its highest level in five years in 2013, with nearly 9,000 people killed, most of them civilians, according to the United Nations.

    “The ongoing conflict in Syria has resulted in an increasing number of terrorists using vast desert areas between Syria and Iraq to establish bases from which they have carried out attacks against the civilian population and economic targets and infrastructure,” said Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani.

    “Attacking the energy sector has been among their top priorities to deprive the country of its main revenue source,” he said. “The attacks have been focussed on oil export pipelines, power generation and transmission lines.”

    The al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL], which also is fighting in neighboring Syria, took control of the Iraqi city of Falluja west of Baghdad with the help of sympathetic armed tribesmen.

    Unrest is not limited to central areas near Baghdad, but also is spreading to the north where hundreds of thousands of ethnic Kurds fled the Syrian war to neighboring Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan and Turkey.

    “The Iraqi Turkish pipeline was blown up 54 times during 2013, averaging once a week yet we managed to repair and use that pipeline and pump on average 250,000 barrels per day last year,” said Shahristani.

    He said operations at much larger oilfields in Iraq's south, which provide the bulk of oil exports from the Gulf, remained unaffected.

    He said security concerns, however, hindered development of reserves in the western region and its Qayara and Najmah oilfields, operated by Angolan state oil company Sonangol in the al-Qaida heartland of Nineveh province in the country's northwest.

    Waiting for a KRG response

    Despite the violence, Iraq is gearing up for one of the biggest oil output jumps in its history with international companies nearing completion of major projects which so far have not been affected by unrest.

    Iraq will see its oil production capacity rise by more than 50 percent in 2015 to 4.7 million barrels per day [bpd] compared to more than 3 million at the moment, said Shahristani.

    The long-term plan is to raise output to 9 million bpd by 2020 and sustain that rate over 20 years, he said.

    Kurdistan has also signed deals with major and mid-sized energy companies in the hope of producing as much as 1 million barrels per day.

    It has built a pipeline to Turkey, but Baghdad insists it has the sole right to export oil from all parts of Iraq, including Kurdistan.

    “Any oil that leaves Iraq without the permission of [state company] SOMO is illegal and Iraq will have to take actions to protect its oil wealth,” said Shahristani.

    “We have informed Turkey and the KRG that we cannot allow this to continue,” he said. “We are waiting for a response to our latest proposal."

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    by: MikeBarnett from: USA
    January 29, 2014 12:37 PM
    After the death of bin Laden in 2011, Ayman al Zawahiri decided to stop trying to blow up shoes and underwear on airliners. He has moved al Qaeda into position to strike the oil and gas infrastructure in north Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Middle East. He is not rigid in his plans for his attacks. He has allowed labor unrest to reduce Libyan oil shipments, most of which went to the US and NATO, by 90%. This raises the price of oil for the West. He has encouraged the oil sanctions on Iran, a Shia country, because al Qaeda is a Sunni organization that considers Shia's to be unbelievers. The sanctions also raise the price of oil for the West by cutting supplies.

    The attacks in Iraq are part of his strategy because they raise the terror premium and help keep the price of oil near $100 per barrel. This sends more money from the West to Sunni Arab oil states whose citizens donate more money to charities. Islamic insurgent groups engage in charity and qualify for the increased donations. In addition, higher oil prices hinder the mechanized economies of the West that develop and pay for the mechanized militaries of the West. The oil campaign gives more money to improve Sunni Arab countries, gives more money to al Qaeda, damages the economies of the West, and damages the militaries of the West. This permits the US and NATO to pay for both sides in all of the conflicts. It is a multiple victory for al Qaeda.

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