- The Washington Times - Monday, September 8, 2003

KIRKUK, Iraq — Saboteurs struck a critical oil pipeline in northern Iraq yesterday, the latest in a series of attacks that have halted the country’s oil deliveries to Turkey at an estimated cost of $7 million a day.

Adel al-Qazzaz, director general of the Northern Oil Co., said the line attacked yesterday had carried 35,000 barrels a day from the Jabour oil field 20 miles southeast of Kirkuk to the main pipeline that originates in the northeastern Iraqi city.

The official said saboteurs set the line afire at a valve at 10:30 a.m., sending huge flames and clouds of smoke into the air. Firefighters had the fire under control by nightfall; about 300 yards of the pipeline was damaged.

L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civil administrator for Iraq, has estimated the country is losing $7 million daily because of damage to the pipeline that carries oil from the Kirkuk fields to a Mediterranean port at Ceyhan in Turkey.

Iraq has the world’s second-largest proven crude reserves, at 112 billion barrels, but its pipelines, pumping stations and oil reservoirs are dilapidated after more than a decade of neglect. The Kirkuk fields account for 40 percent of Iraq’s oil production, but saboteurs have crippled attempts to resume exports.

Income from oil exports is crucial to U.S. plans for rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure. The Kirkuk-Ceyhan line, which was first reported attacked Aug. 18, just days after the major export pipeline began carrying oil to Turkey, was expected to remain closed for five more weeks because of yesterday’s attack.

For the seventh day in a row, the U.S. military reported no combat deaths yesterday.

Nevertheless, Britain announced plans to bolster its force in southern Iraq. London said it would send two additional battalions to Iraq, adding 1,200 troops to its 11,000-member force in the region around Basra, the country’s second-largest city.

In the only reported attack on U.S. forces yesterday, Iraqi guerrillas bombed an American patrol as soldiers were driving out of a tunnel in the center of Baghdad, the military said. The attack wounded two soldiers, damaged two Humvees.

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