Violence in Iraq climbed back to its highest level in five years
in 2013, with nearly 9,000 people killed, most of them civilians,
according to the United Nations.
"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," Deputy
Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani said.
"Attacking the energy sector has been among their top priorities to
deprive the country of its main revenue source," he said.
"The attacks have been focused on oil export pipelines, power
generation and transmission lines."
The al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),
which is also fighting in neighboring Syria, took control of the
Iraqi city of Falluja west of Baghdad with the help of sympathetic
Unrest is not limited to central areas near Baghdad but is also
spreading to the north where hundreds of thousands of ethnic Kurds
fled the Syrian war to neighboring Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan
"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," Shahristani
He said operations at much larger oilfields in Iraq's south which
provide the bulk of oil exports from the Gulf remained unaffected.
However, he said security concerns hindered development of reserves
in the western region and its Qayara and Najmah oilfields, operated
by Angolan state oil company Sonangol in the al-Qaeda heartland of
Nineveh province in the country's northwest.
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WAITING FOR A KRG RESPONSE
Despite the violence, Iraq is gearing up for one of the biggest oil
output jumps in its history with international companies nearing
completion of major projects which so far have not been affected by
Iraq will see its oil production capacity rise by more than 50
percent in 2015 to 4.7 million barrels per day (bpd) compared to
more than 3 million at the moment, Shahristani said.
The long-term plan is to raise output to 9 million bpd by 2020 and
sustain that rate over 20 years, he said.
Kurdistan has also signed deals with major and mid-sized energy
companies in the hope of producing as much as 1 million barrels per
It has built a pipeline to Turkey, but Baghdad insists it has the
sole right to export oil from all parts of Iraq, including
"Any oil that leaves Iraq without the permission of (state company)
SOMO is illegal and Iraq will have to take actions to protect its
oil wealth," Shahristani said.
"We have informed Turkey and the KRG that we cannot allow this to
continue," he said. "We are waiting for a response to our latest
(Writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by William Hardy and Jason
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