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Iraq Oil Pipeline Still Being Fixed

June 21, 2004|From Reuters

Repairs on a sabotaged oil export pipeline in southern Iraq were behind schedule Sunday, preventing a resumption of exports, an oil official in contact with repair crews said.

"We do not expect the teams to finish before nightfall. They are still working on welding a new section and overcoming gas in the line and other problems," said the official, who asked not to be named.

A shipping agent said exports might start flowing overnight if test runs following welding succeeded. "Nothing is official really, but we could have loadings tonight," he said.

After welding of new sections is completed, the 700,000-barrel-a-day pipeline will be tested for a few hours. Pumping will start gradually if pressure builds up and there are no leaks.

Saboteurs blew holes last week in the 42-inch pipeline and another 48-inch pipeline, bringing all of Iraq's oil exports to a halt. The pipelines feed the main Basra terminal and the smaller Khor al-Amaya terminal.

Iraqi and Western officials had previously expected partial oil exports to resume Saturday or Sunday if the repairs on the pipeline in the Faw Peninsula went smoothly.

Iraq was exporting around 1.6 million barrels a day from the two southern terminals before the latest sabotage.

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