Iraq, Turkey to Restart Crude Pipeline Project

Iraq, Turkey to Restart Crude Pipeline ProjectIraq, Turkey to Restart Crude Pipeline Project

Work on a pipeline carrying oil from northern Iraq to Turkey should be complete "in a day or two", an industry source based in the Kurdistan region said on Sunday, with the outage now in its third week. Flows through the pipeline, which carries around 600,000 barrels per day of oil from fields in Iraq's Kurdistan region and Kirkuk to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, have been suspended since Feb. 17, Reuters reported.

The Turkish Energy Ministry said on Feb. 27 it had begun work to repair the pipeline.

"They are working and should finish up in a day or two," said the source who asked not to be identified.

The pipeline runs through Turkey's restive southeast, which is engulfed in the worst violence since the 1990s after a two-year ceasefire between the state and Kurdish fighters broke down last July. The ministry said flows were initially suspended due to temporary security measures and that fighters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party had subsequently blown up the pipeline.

A spokesman for the PKK denied the group was responsible for the current outage and said the accusations were part of a smear campaign by Turkish intelligence services.

The PKK, considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the European Union, has in the past claimed responsibility for attacking the pipeline, condemning economic ties between the KRG and Ankara. The outage, one of the longest in the past two years, has deepened an economic crisis in the Kurdistan region, which has been hit hard by the global slump in oil prices and is unable to cover its own payroll.

A KRG source told Reuters last Wednesday the outage had already cost the region $200 million.