Kirkuk-Banias Pipeline (IPC)

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The 880-kilometre (km) Kirkuk-Banias pipeline was first brought online in 1952 and transported oil from Kirkuk in central-northern Iraq to the port of Banias in Syria. According to Pipelines International, the building of the pipeline marked a significant moment in the development of Iraq's petroleum industry.[1]

The pipeline stopped operating in 2003 during the US-led invasion of Iraq and as of late 2012 remained closed.[2]

Capacity

The Kirkuk-Banias pipeline had a capacity of 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) prior to 2003. However its original capacity when built in the 1950s was 1.4 million bpd.[3]

History

In 1950 the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) contracted Bechtel to construct the 30-32 inch pipeline, which waslaid by British, American, Syrian and Iraqi workers. Construction was completed in 1952. The pipeline was damaged by the Syrian army in response to the Anglo-French seizure of the Suez Canal zone in 1956, but was later repaired.

In 1972 Iraq nationalised the IPC, which led to nationalisation of the IPC's assets in Syria, including the Syrian section of the Kirkuk-Banias pipeline.[4]

The pipeline was closed for much of the 1970s and 1980s, but in the 1990s it was reopened so that Iraq could bypass the UN oil embargo. At the time, reports put Iraq's exports through the line at about 150,000-200,000 bpd.[5] But the pipeline was bombed by US forces during the invasion that removed Saddam Hussein in 2003, stopping the flow of oil.

In 2007 it was reported that Syria and Iraq were discussing plans to revive the pipeline, however ongoing security issues stalled the deal according to Oil Minister at the time Shahristani.[6] Reports suggested that Russian firm Stroytransgaz had secured a contract for repairs, however Christopher Blanchard reported that in 2007 the Syrian government was seeking alternative foreign firms. In April 2009 Syria and Iraq again announced that the two sides had reached an agreement to repair the line, however the deal was not followed through.[7]

In April 2011, Stroytransgaz reported that Iraq was finalizing the terms of engagement for a contract to construct two crude export pipelines and a gas pipeline through Syria to the Banias port, to be offered to investors. Capacity for the two pipelines was expected to reach 2.75 million bpd. The first pipeline would transport heavy crude from the northern Baiji area, potentially including oil from Majnoon, Halfaya, Badra, Ahdab and East Baghdad fields, as well as Najmah and Qayara. The second would follow the route of the existing damaged pipeline, with a capacity of 1.25 million bpd. As of late 2011 the project had not been confirmed.[8]

References

  1. "The Kirkuk – Banias Pipeline", Pipelines International March 2011.
  2. "Syria Oil Gas Profile", A Barrel Full retrieved 6 January 2011.
  3. "NOC lets contract for Kirkuk-Banias oil line repair", Pipelines International 4 July 2008.
  4. "The Kirkuk – Banias Pipeline", Pipelines International March 2011.
  5. "NOC lets contract for Kirkuk-Banias oil line repair", Pipelines International, 4 July 2008.
  6. "Iraq says oil flows through Syria depend on security", Reuters, 20 August 2007.
  7. Blanchard, Christopher "Iraq: Regional Perspectives and US Policy", Congressional Research Service, 6 October 2009.
  8. "Iraq Finalises Tender Terms for Syria Export Pipelines", Stroytransgaz 21 April 2011.