Kirkuk-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline

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Transporting oil from fields near Kirkuk in Iraq's north to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline spans 941 kilometers. It comprises two parallel pipelines, the first of which was commissioned in 1977 and the second in 1987.[1] In 2012 the pipeline was carrying a quarter of Iraq's crude exports[2] and as of 2012 was the only export route for Iraq's northern oil production.[3]

The pipeline is operated by the Iraqi oil ministry's North Oil Company.[4] Since it rests directly within the sphere of influence of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), some Kurdish observers, such as the newsletter Kurdish Aspect, have argued that the pipeline should be automatically incorporated into KRG geography pursuant to Article 140 of Iraq's 2005 constitution.[5]

As of December 2011, the Turkish-backed company Genel Energy had plans to build a $400 million oil pipeline to link the southern Taq Taq field with the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline. Genel hoped to start construction on the new 400,000 bpd pipeline in the spring of 2012.[6]


The pipeline has a capacity of 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) but in 2011 was typically pumping around 500,000 bpd.[7] The two component pipelines have diameters of 46 inches (1,170 mm) and 40 inches (1,020 mm), respectively, and the project includes four pump stations and three storage tank farms on the Iraqi side, with a metering station at the Turkish border.[8]


The pipeline was made operational in the 1980s in part to make possible the export of crude oil while avoiding the risk of passing through the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988. It has been under attack and subject to prolonged closures for much of its existence, contributing to its below-capacity operation.[9]

The pipeline was a primary target of insurgent attacks and sabotage in the years following the US-led invasion of Iraq,[10] and was offline more than online between 2003 and 2007.[11] Since then it has been shut down on several occasions, sometimes due to attacks (for instance, a bomb shut down operations for several days in March 2011)[12] and at other times due to old, deteriorating infrastructure (as in September 2011, when exports were halted because of a leak).[13]

In September 2010 Iraq and Turkey signed an agreement to extend their joint operation of the pipeline for 15 years and to upgrade its capacity by about 1 million bpd, though the Iraqi oil ministry provided no timetable for the upgrade's completion. The extension also included amendments that raised the transit fees payable to Turkey as well as an official guarantee by the Turkish government giving it the authority to dismiss orders by Turkish courts to seize Iraqi oil.[14]


  1. "Pipeline projects in the Middle East", Pipelines International March 2010.
  2. "", Upstream Online, 27 August 2012.
  3. "Syria’s transit future: all pipelines lead to Damascus?", OpenOil, 28 March 2012.
  4. "False Reports of Suspension of Oil Exports from Kurdistan", Iraq Business News 12 September 2011.
  5. "Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline belongs to Kurdistan", Kurdish Aspect, 22 September 2010.
  6. "Former BP chief explores the final oil frontier", Financial Times, 7 December 2011.
  7. "UPDATE 1-Blast shut down Iraq Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline-sources", Reuters 9 March 2011.
  8. "The Main Installations", North Oil Company, retrieved 14 December 2011.
  9. "Terror threatening European energy", Hurriyet Daily News, 17 November 2011.
  10. "Iraq Pipeline Watch" Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, 27 March 2008.
  11. "Iraq Shuts Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Export Pipeline Following Leak", Downstream Today, 29 September 2011.
  12. "UPDATE 1-Blast shut down Iraq Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline-sources", Reuters, 9 March 2011.
  13. "Iraq Shuts Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Export Pipeline Following Leak", Downstream Today, 29 September 2011.
  14. "Iraq, Turkey sign renewed oil pipeline accord", Reuters 12 September 2010.