Iraq restores part of largest oil refinery after 4-year hiatus

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-27 22:20:36|Editor: xuxin
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BAGHDAD, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Iraq has rehabilitated part of its largest oil refinery located in Baiji of the country's central province of Salahudin after it was sabotaged in fierce battles against Islamic State (IS) militants four years ago.

"The rehabilitation of the refinery's Salahudin No. 1 part has completed and it is ready now to produce three oil derivatives products: kerosene, diesel and petrol," Khalaf Abdul-Hussein, head of the technical team of the rehabilitation of the refinery, told Xinhua.

The capacity has returned to 60,000 barrels per day (bpd), close to its designed capacity of 75,000 bpd, Hussein said, adding that the 15-day experimental production will begin on Sept. 1.

The Iraqi engineers managed to rehabilitate Salahudin No. 1 after borrowing some undamaged spare parts from the adjacent Salahudin No. 2 part of the refinery, he explained.

Meanwhile, the rehabilitation of Salahudin No. 2 is also underway, yet in need of equipment and spare parts to be provided by the foreign companies building the refinery.

Located near the town of Baiji, some 200 km north of the capital Baghdad, the largest oil refinery in Iraq produces a total of 300,000 bpd of oil derivative products.

The refinery was completely destroyed in the first Gulf War in 1991, but soon restored by Iraqi engineers.

The huge refinery site witnessed intense fighting since IS militants captured large parts of Salahudin Province after June 2014, but the Iraqi government forces liberated the refinery and its surrounding areas in April 2015.

However, media reports said after the liberation from IS, the refinery site was looted by unidentified militias.

Khalid Mahmoud, head of oil pipelines department, told Xinhua that the Iraqi oil ministry has reconnected pipelines from the oilfields of Salahudin and Kirkuk to the refinery in Baiji, with more efforts underway to restore the pipeline network to transport petroleum products from the refinery to other Iraqi provinces.

Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar Luaiby said earlier that the ministry decided to complete the rehabilitation in six to nine months, adding that he has instructed government oil companies in northern, central and southern Iraq to make joint efforts in restoring the oil refinery.

Observers believe the re-operation of the Baiji refinery would benefit Salahudin Province, as the revenues from the oil products would fund the reconstruction of areas destroyed by the IS, and create jobs to reduce unemployment in the province.