KRG Oil Exports Halt in December Due to Fire, Pipeline

Source: Reuters 11/14/2013, Location: Middle East

Iraqi Kurdistan has halted December independent oil exports via Turkey following a fire at an oilfield loading station and as it allocates crude to test a new pipeline, trading and local industry sources said.

Production at Genel's Taq Taq oilfield was temporarily suspended after the fire at its loading station, one source familiar with the matter said.

Iraqi Kurdistan has been transporting crude by truck, through a Turkish intermediary called Powertrans, to Turkey, where it is loaded on to tankers for European refiners.

Output has resumed at Taq Taq, but also some of its oil is now being allocated for Arbil's new pipeline to Turkey, leaving less for truck exports.

The pipeline is in the commissioning phase and is expected to start up at the end of year, pumping an initial volume of around 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) out of Kurdistan's total of over 350,000 bpd.

"Quantities of Taq Taq crude are currently being loaded by tanker truck and also being used to fill sections of the new export pipeline," an industry source said on condition of anonymity.

The central government in Baghdad calls Arbil's exports illegal, saying that only state marketing body SOMO is entitled to sell oil abroad.

Traders said that Powertrans first postponed the December tender to sell the Kurdish crude following the fire and then was forced to cancel it due to risks it might not be able to move enough crude by truck to the Turkish ports of Dortyol and Mersin in time.

The fire occurred early last week at the loading station, several industry sources said.

"What I was told is that a truck caught fire and that the fire spread from the truck into the loading gantry and caused damage, and in addition there were some injuries," said one industry source.

No lives were lost, the sources said.

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