Syria-Iraq pipeline will reopen within 2 years

A pipeline linking Iraq's northern oil fields with Syria's Mediterranean coastline will be operational within two years but needs repairs in Iraq, Syria's oil minister said Sunday after meeting with a visiting Iraqi delegation.

Syria-Iraq pipeline will reopen within 2 years
Syrian Oil Minister Sufian Allaw said a Russian company would travel to Iraq on Jan. 10 to inspect the pipeline for needed repairs.

It's ready to pump oil from the Syrian side, but the pipeline still needs some repair from the Iraqi side,' Allaw said during a visit by a delegation led by Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh.

In Baghdad, a spokesman for Iraq's Oil Ministry said it had been impossible to repair the line before because security was too tenuous.

But now with the improved security situation and the increase in oil production, we are planning to increase our export outlets,' said the spokesman, Assem Jihad.

He said Iraq produces about 2.5 million barrels per day, a recent increase from the 2 million post-invasion average, but far below what its reserves could handle. The oil sector has suffered from decades of Saddam Hussein-era mismanagement, UN sanctions and the effects of the current occupations.

Saleh's visit to Syria was the second by a top Iraqi official in a week, signaling improved relations between the countries.

On Wednesday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari announced that the pipeline linking the oil-rich city of Kirkuk with the Syrian port of Banias would reopen.

Syria, which allied itself with Iran in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, shut down the pipeline in 1982. It reopened in late 2000, as relations with Baghdad thawed, but was closed again with the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

Since the US invasion that removed Saddam Hussein from power, Syria has received the highest number of Iraqi refugees in the region _ estimated at about 1.5 million Iraqis _ and says their influx has strained its education, health and housing systems, pushing the government to tighten visa requirements and to call for international assistance.

Syria claims the cost of the Iraqi refugees' stay is about US$1.6 billion (euro1.07 billion) a year, and Zebari said Wednesday that the pipeline's reopening was meant to help the government in Damascus.

This pipeline would pump around 250,000 barrels a day through the Syrian ports,' Allaw said Sunday.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Aralık 2007, 20:01