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Despite the fact that Iraq is preparing to experience one of its largest ever jumps in oil production output in its history, Hussain al-Shahristani, the Deputy Prime Minister for Energy, has said that spillover from the Syrian war has been severely hindering the development of the energy sector.
The war in Syria has brought conflict back to the region, and in 2013 violence in Iraq reached its highest level in five years, with nearly 9,000 people killed, most of them civilians.
Al-Shahristani, explained that “the ongoing conflict in Syria has resulted in an increasing number of terrorists using vast desert areas between Syria and Iraq to establish bases from which they have carried out attacks against the civilian population and economic targets and infrastructure.
Attacking the energy sector has been among their top priorities to deprive the country of its main revenue source.
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The attacks have been focussed on oil export pipelines, power generation and transmission lines.”
As the violence in Syria increases the conflict is beginning to move into neighbouring Iraq. The al Qaeda-linked group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) recently took control of the city of Falluja just to the west of Baghdad, and the northern regions have received hundreds of thousands of ethnic Kurds fleeing Syria.
“The Iraqi Turkish pipeline was blown up 54 times during 2013, averaging once a week yet we managed to repair and use that pipeline and pump on average 250,000 barrels per day last year.”
Luckily Iraq’s largest oil fields in the south have been unaffected, but development of the Qayara and Najmah oilfields in the west has been slow.
Baghdad expects oil production capacity to increase by more than 50% next year, up to 4.7 million barrels a day. The long term plan is to boost output to 9 million barrels a day and then sustain this level for 20 years.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com