Iraq resumes full crude oil exports via Turkey: NOC

KIRKUK, Iraq Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:08am EST

KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq resumed full crude oil exports through its northern pipeline to Turkey on Monday after reported sabotage of the link halted flows last week, an official at the state-run North Oil Company said.

In the Turkish port of Ceyhan, meanwhile, one ship was now loading at the pipeline's terminus and three others were waiting, said a Turkish shipping agent who declined to be identified.

The rate was 28,000 barrels per hour at 0800 GMT, he said.

Two shipping sources confirmed flows had resumed, although one source said the line began operating again on Sunday.

The pipeline, from the northern city of Kirkuk to the Mediterranean port near Ceyhan in Turkey, had resumed pumping at limited levels on Friday after flows were completely halted on November 24, an engineer at Iraq's North Oil Company told Reuters on condition his name was not used.

A separate, technical fault early on Sunday forced the pipeline to close again for about 24 hours, he said.

"Exports started again early today with the technical issue now fixed," the Iraqi engineer also said, adding volume was at about 640,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd).

It was the second closure on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, which transports an average 500,000 bpd, in a month.

Iraqi officials have blamed the recent closures on attacks by insurgents. The pipeline, which carries a quarter of all Iraqi exports, previously closed due to apparent sabotage on October 28.

"Flows have been intermittent since they were cut last week," the source said. "Oil began flowing three days ago but had stopped again. The levels of pumping are often unclear."

Iraqi oil in storage at Ceyhan stood at about 3 million barrels, the source said.

(Reporting by Christopher Johnson in London; Additional reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley in Baghdad, and Mustafa Mahmoud in Kirkuk; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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