Attacks bring Iraq’s southern oil exports to a halt once again


BAGHDAD, Iraq, AP

Iraq’s oil exports have been brought to a complete halt, senior oil officials said Monday, following a spate of pipeline attacks launched by insurgents trying to undermine the volatile nation’s interim government.

Oil flows out of the southern pipelines — which account for 90 percent of Iraq’s exports — ceased late Sunday and were not likely to resume for at least a week, two senior officials from South Oil Co. said on condition of anonymity.

“Oil exports from the port of Basra have completely stopped,” one official said.

No oil was being pumped Monday through Iraq’s northern export lines to the Turkish port of Ceyhan as well, according to an oil official in Ceyhan.

The shutdown followed a spate of pipeline bombings by insurgents bent on undermining the government by restricting its access to desperately needed export revenue.

“This is causing a great loss for the Iraqi people in terms of revenues, which could be used in the reconstruction of the country and to pay the people and get the economy back on track again,” interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said in an interview with CNN aired Monday.

Officials have made securing the pipelines and the other oil infrastructure a priority. But with about 7,000 kilometers of pipelines crisscrossing the country, they concede there are many places for saboteurs to strike.

“Those pipelines are very long and very vulnerable,” a U.S. diplomat in Baghdad said on condition of anonymity. The official said it wasn’t immediately clear who was responsible for the latest wave of pipeline bombings. “There are many insurgent and terrorist groups active in Iraq,” the official said.