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Iraq Reopens Refinery after a Decade-Long Shutdown

Iraq reopened on Friday its rehabilitated North Oil Refinery in Baiji, which had been inactive for more than 10 years and which brings OPEC’s second-largest crude producer closer to being self-sufficient in oil products, the Prime Minister Media Office said in a statement.

The Baiji refinery was damaged by insurgent violence when Al Qaeda and later ISIS were fighting for control of Iraqi territories and for control of the oil refinery.  

The refinery was shut down in 2014 when Islamic State fighters seized it and stole crude and petroleum products from the territories they controlled in Iraq to fund their insurgency.  

The repaired refinery was inaugurated today by Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Al-Sudani, who praised the staff of the North Refineries Company who undertook the challenge of reconstructing the facility after it was liberated from ISIS.

The reopened oil refinery has a processing capacity of around 150,000 barrels per day (bpd). The restart of the refinery raises the total processing capacity of the Baiji refining complex to 290,000 bpd, according to Reuters.

With the start-up of the North Oil Refinery in Baiji, Iraq is nearing the capacity necessary to supply all of Iraq’s oil product demand by the middle of next year, at the latest, PM Al-Sudani said at the inauguration ceremony.

“This will save us billions of dollars that will be allocated to other service and economic sectors by ceasing the import of oil derivatives, thus achieving our reform goals,” the Prime minister's media office said.

Despite producing more than 4 million bpd, Iraq continues to import oil products—a policy that has been in place for decades. With the reopening of the North Oil Refinery in Baiji, “we are on track to meet the country's total oil derivatives needs by mid-next year, potentially even surpassing this goal ahead of schedule,” Iraq says.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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