BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said Iraq plans to increase production from oilfields in Kirkuk to one million barrels per day and has visited the Bai Hasan and Avana fields to order work be accelerated to restore operations soon, the ministry’s spokesman said on Monday.
Exports from oilfields in Kirkuk have been on hold since Iraqi forces took back control of them from the Kurds last month.
On Oct. 17, Iraqi forces took control of the Bai Hasan and Avana oilfields northwest of Kirkuk, after Kurdish Peshmerga fighters pulled out from the region, security sources said.
On Nov. 2, the oil ministry requested that the Kurdish authorities allow Baghdad to use their pipeline to export Kirkuk crude but received no response, Asim Jihad told Reuters.
“Kurdish authorities are still not responding to requests made by the oil ministry to use the Kurdish pipeline to resume exports from Kirkuk,” Jihad said.
Iraq needs at least three months to repair an old pipeline which was shipping Kirkuk crude to Ceyhan port in Turkey. The main 600,000 bpd Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline had been offline since March 2014 following insurgent attacks.
Jihad said also the Kurdish natural resources ministry is not cooperating to return “necessary material” that was removed by Kurdish engineers before they fled the oilfields.
Iraqi government forces captured the major Kurdish-held oil city of Kirkuk on Oct. 16 in retaliation for a Kurdish referendum on independence which was widely opposed by Turkey, Iran and Western powers.
Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; editing by Jason Neely and David Evans