Iraq Begins Pumping Kirkuk Oil From KRG Pipeline

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By Zainab Calcuttawala, Oilprice.com

Iraq will begin pumping oil from Kirkuk once again, just a week after clashes between Iraqi and Kurdish forces forced production in certain parts of the No.2 OPEC producer to shutter.

Baghdad began pumping crude from the Avana field in Kirkuk through a pipeline controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which voted to gain independence from Iraq a month ago.

The flow rate reached 90,000 barrels per day on Wednesday, sources told Bloomberg. This crude will be sold through SOMO, the Iraqi government’s main oil marketing company. Baghdad had been on track to continue its production recovery before the independence referendum last month, but since the clashes, exports from northern Iraq have fallen by more than half from 600,000 barrels per day.

Reports from earlier today say the Iraqi government’s North Oil Co. and Kurdish Kar Group had been cooperating on pumping the oil from two fields that halted operations following the government military action to take them over from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Kurdistan forces had been there since 2014 when they ousted Islamic State militants.

The Bai Hassan and Avana oil fields near Kirkuk have been shut since October 19th, keeping at least 275,000 bpd offline. The Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, operated by KAR Group, saw flows fall to 196,000 barrels a day last Thursday—down from 225,000 barrels per day the day before.

Civilian workers at both fields were reportedly sent home following a build-up of Iraqi military forces around the sites. Oil Ministry engineers worked to replace computers and other critical equipment missing from oil fields.

Over the weekend, Iraqi authorities said they increased oil exports from the southern Basra region by 200,000 barrels per day to make up for a shortfall from the northern Kirkuk fields.

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