Last Updated: Sat Oct 08, 2011 11:04 am (KSA) 08:04 am (GMT)

Two blasts target south Iraq oil pipeline

A policeman stands guard at the Rumaila oilfield in Basra, 260 miles southeast of Baghdad. (Photo by Reuters)
A policeman stands guard at the Rumaila oilfield in Basra, 260 miles southeast of Baghdad. (Photo by Reuters)

Two explosions struck an oil pipeline overnight in southern Iraq, starting a fire and diverting crude transport, security and energy officials said on Saturday.

The blasts occurred in the Safwan bridge area southwest of the port city of Basra, and the Qarenat area west of there, near the massive Rumaila oil field, a police officer and an official at state-owned South Oil Co said.

They did not affect oil production or exports, and the fire was put out on Saturday morning.

“This oil pipeline transports oil from southern Rumaila to Zubair,” the police officer said. Transport was switched to another pipeline that connects the two fields.

Exports have not been affected, Iraq’s Oil Minister Adbul-Kareem Luaibi told Reuters in Basra on Saturday.

The Rumaila field is the country’s biggest, with proven reserves of 17.7 billion barrels of oil. Britain's BP and China's CNPC have had a contract to extract crude there since 2009.

Zubair is another field in Basra province and is exploited by an ENI-led consortium, which includes Occidental Petroleum Corp of the United States and Korea Gas Corp of South Korea.

Oil sales account for the lion’s share of government income in Iraq, with the country exporting around 2.2 million barrels per day. That figure is set to rise by around 300,000 bpd early next year, according to the oil ministry.

Repairs to the pipelines were going ahead, but he gave no indication of when production would be back on line at the field developed by BP and Chinese CNPC.

Iraq currently produces around 2.9 million bpd, and says it will be capable of output of 12 million bpd by 2017.

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