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Security forces at the Alaas field in northern Iraq have thwarted an attack by Islamic State militants, killing and injuring several attackers, Iraqi media report citing a statement from the operator of the field, North Oil Company.
This is the latest in several attacks by the terrorist group on the field after it was driven out of the area in 2017. At the time, Alaas was one of the fields that IS set on fire during its retreat.
While Baghdad celebrated the defeat of Islamic State after the battle for Mosul, the last remaining stronghold of the terrorist group in the country, even then there were military experts who warned that not all militants were destroyed in the push, warning that the group will sooner or later resurface.
According to security reports from the Kurdistan Regional Government from the last few months, this is already happening: according to the Kurdish forces, sleeper cells are waking up and terrorist activity is increasing.
Indeed, the number of kidnappings, car bombings, assassinations of local community leaders and attacks on the grid have remained high even after the official end of the war with IS. The militants have also started targeting oil fields again. In early February, Iraqi media reported two attacks on oil police checkpoint staff in a single weekend.
For now, the attacks are being thwarted successfully by the Iraqi security forces, which retook control of the northern oil fields around Kirkuk after the ill-fated independence referendum in the Kurdistan autonomous region. What’s more, the state-owned oil companies have ambitious oil production plans for the future.
Iraq had oil reserves of 153 billion barrels as of 2017, and in 2018 Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said the actual reserves could be twice as large. If the higher estimate proves true, it would make Iraq the largest oil-rich country in the world, ahead of Venezuela, which claims that its reserves are just above 300 billion barrels, and also ahead of Saudi Arabia.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.