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Islamic State militants have bombed an oil pipeline in Kirkuk, northern Iraq, the top security official of the Kurdistan government told local news outlet Rudaw. The terrorists launched two bombs at the pipeline yesterday, Idris Rafaat said, and the fire has yet to be extinguished.
It was not immediately clear which pipeline the Islamic State militants had blown up and what the effect on shipments from northern Iraqi fields will be.
Last year, after the Mosul offensive, the central Iraqi government said it had defeated Islamic State. However, terrorist cells remain, and the fight with these continues. Kurdistan is one of the places where there are cells, and according to Rafaat, the central government cannot do a lot about it.
"Due to the Peshmerga not existing in the region, a security vacuum has been created and the Iraqi Federal Police cannot control it as they are strangers in the area,” he said, as quoted by Rudaw. The official referred to the takeover of Kirkuk by the central Iraqi government last year, after an ill-fated independence referendum in Kurdistan angered Baghdad. It then promptly retook control of the oil fields around the northern Iraqi city.
Meanwhile, protests in southern Iraq continue as people challenge the government on issues ranging from clean drinking water to jobs. Oil fields have been natural targets for protests, but the government security forces have been swift to disperse them, including by using force.
Despite the unstable situation, Iraq is pumping oil at record rates, Oil Minister Jabbar Al-Luaibi said on Sunday, as quoted by Bloomberg. At 4.36 million bpd, the production rate is within the quota set for the country by OPEC, but it has the capacity to increase this to 4.75 million bpd, Al-Luaibi said, excluding oil from Kurdistan. Exports, he added, averaged 3.59 million bpd.
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.