ISTANBUL/KIRKUK, Iraq, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Iraq resumed
exporting oil to Turkey through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline on
Thursday, two days after a bomb attack knocked out flows on the
key energy corridor, officials said.
Oil flow was restored to 350,000-400,000 barrels per day,
the same rate as before the bombing, said an official with
Iraq's North Oil Company in Kirkuk.
"Iraq started from the first hours of today exporting
through the Iraqi oil pipeline to Turkey," said the official,
who asked not to be named. "We are pumping the same volume as
before the attack. No problems at all at the current time."
The Kirkuk-Ceyhan link carries an average of 500,000 barrels
of oil a day, or about a quarter of Iraq's total exports.
Turkey blamed the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for
the bombing, which started a major fire and killed two people.
Turkish Energy Ministry officials said Turkey planned to
increase security along the route to prevent further sabotage.
"The fire was extinguished, then cooling activities took
place. Now maintenance work is being carried out," said a
spokeswoman at Botas, Turkey's state-run pipeline operator.
Authorities have re-routed the flow of oil from the larger
pipe that was bombed to a smaller one that runs parallel while
repairs on the damaged pipe continue, she said. Pumping began
early on Thursday, the spokeswoman also said.
Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told reporters in Ankara that
repairs to the larger pipe could take six to seven days.
Two shipping agents earlier said the flow of oil had resumed
late on Wednesday.
One agent based near Ceyhan, who spoke on condition he would
not be identified, said the rate of pumping was between 4,000
and 4,600 cubic metres. At least one tanker was waiting to load
cargo at Ceyhan after being delayed by the pipeline's outage, he
The 960 kilometre Kirkuk-Ceyhan link consists of two
parallel pipelines. Different pumping stations along the route
allow pipeline operators to switch the flow of crude to the
other line, Iraqi oil-industry sources have said.
The PKK, which has waged a 26-year insurgency against the
Turkish state, last month claimed responsibility for bombing
Kirkuk-Ceyhan in an attack that stopped flows for several days.
The conflict between the PKK and Turkish military, which
began in August 1984 as a campaign for an independent Kurdish
homeland, has claimed more than 40,000 lives, mostly Kurdish.
(Reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley in Istanbul, Mustafa Mahmoud in
Kirkuk, Iraq, and Orhan Coskun in Ankara, editing by Jane Baird)