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Baghdad Regains Control of the Kirkuk Oil Patch In a Significant Victory Over the Kurds

Baghdad Regains Control of the Kirkuk Oil Patch In a Significant Victory Over the Kurds (serkan senturk / Shutterstock)

After losing Kirkuk's prodigious oil fields to ISIS during the terrorists' Blitzkrieg three years ago and ultimately to rebellious Kurds after ISIS was evicted, the federal government in Baghdad has reasserted its sovereignty over the area and is now planning a "comprehensive and accelerated" rehabilitation plan for Kirkuk's crude oil pipeline network.

The pipelines run from Kirkuk 970 km to the Turkish export port of Ceyhan in the Mediterranean. During the ISIS occupation the pipelines were often sabotaged and now in urgent need of repair and rehabilitation.

The loss of the Kirkuk oil patch also means a significant loss of revenue for the Kurds. This, coupled with the ongoing Turkish and Iranian embargo of Kurdish petroleum and petroleum products, means the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will likely soon face severe economic hardship. And there will surely be a political price to pay, as Masoud Barzani, President of the KRG, clearly miscalculated, plausibly threatening the very viability of the KRG itself.

Iraq's National Oil Company (NOC) spokesman, Asim Jihad, said construction and oil services companies were told to focus on restoring the oil export networks “following the victories achieved” by Iraq’s security forces and “the liberation of cities in the provinces of Kirkuk and Salahuddin and Nineveh” from IS, whose militants cause damage to oil installations and fields throughout the country.

In addition, Nineveh’s oil fields, located mainly in the region of Qayyara south of Mosul, used to produce sour heavy crude. The ISIS militants had set these on fire for smoke to cover their movements from the air. The Nineveh fields used to produce 30,000 barrels per day, according to the ministry.

The Ministry’s spokesperson claimed Iraq hopes to restore its export capacity – currently stalled – to some 250,000, or more, barrels per day, and to enhance its exports via the northern port.

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