Iraq oil exports to Turkey halted by pipeline attacks

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Iraq’s oil exports to Turkey were halted Wednesday by three bombings that targeted an oil pipeline north of Baghdad, the latest in a series of such attacks this year.

The apparently coordinated attacks took place between 3:00 am (0000 GMT) and 5:00 am, in the northern provinces of Nineveh and Kirkuk.

“The process of oil production has not been compromised, though the exports have stopped altogether,” a senior executive from the state-owned North Oil Co said, describing the attacks as “the most violent since 2003.”

Repairs to the pipeline, which has been attacked at least 37 times over the past two months, are expected to take several days, according to the official.

Iraq is dependent on oil exports for the lion’s share of its government income, and is seeking to dramatically ramp up its sales in the coming years to fund the reconstruction of its battered infrastructure.

But sales have sputtered in recent months, with data from the oil ministry indicating on Tuesday that average daily exports fell in July to their lowest in 16 months.

In particular, exports along the pipeline from Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan have fallen off dramatically, from 16.4 million barrels in June 2011 to 5.6 million barrels last month.

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