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By Humeyra Pamuk and Orhan Coskun
DUHOK, Iraq/ANKARA, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Crude oil flow on Iraqi Kurdistan’s pipeline to Turkey has resumed after upgrade work was completed and is now running at an increased rate of 200,000 barrels per day (bpd), industry sources and Turkish officials told Reuters on Thursday.
“The system has been tested and approved. The flow has resumed, pumping at a rate of 200,000 bpd,” one industry source familiar with the matter said.
Oil revenues are a lifeline for the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, whose peshmerga forces are being supported by U.S. air strikes in their battle against the radical Sunni militants of Islamic State.
The pipeline, which first began operating at the start of this year, allows the semi-autonomous Kurdish enclave to independently pump and export oil, carrying northern Iraqi Taq Taq crude to Turkey’s Mediterranean export outlet of Ceyhan.
“In about a week or 10 days pumping is expected to rise to 220,000 and after that up to 250,000 bpd,” the source said.
The KRG began independently exporting its crude via Ceyhan in May, a move that has infuriated Baghdad, which claims the sole authority to manage Iraqi oil.
Baghdad has tried to block KRG’s oil sales and prevented some cargoes from discharging through legal action, but the Kurdish enclave has managed to load seven export cargoes from Ceyhan, according to Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.
So far, 7.8 million barrels of Kurdish oil have flowed through the independent pipeline, of which 6.5 million have been loaded onto tankers for export. (Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Orhan Coskun; Editing by Nick Tattersall)