24 May 2007 - 13:17
  • News Code: 105469
Insurgents In Iraq Blow Up Oil Well

Insurgents blew up an oil well near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Thursday, filling the sky with a thick black plume of smoke, security and oil industry officials said.

"The fire is the result of sabotage," confirmed an Iraqi army officer who declined to be named. "Insurgents planted a bomb in the well."


"The insurgents took advange of the sleeping guards," he said, adding that it could take weeks to extinguish the blaze.


An official with the Northern Oil Company confirmed sabotage, saying that the attack came early on Thursday morning.


Kirkuk"s oil fields are guarded by the Strategic Infrastructure Brigades, trdibal levies who have been inducted into the army but have proven ill-equipped to prevent sabotage of the area"s oil infrastructure.


The oil-rich city could contain as much as half of the country"s total petroleum resources, but the northern export pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan is frequently shut off because of attacks.


Oil minister Hussein Shahristani recently disclosed that the current export rate of 1.6 million barrels of oil per day could be raised to two million if Kirkuk"s oil could be securely exported.


The deeply disputed city contains a fractious ethnic and sectarian mix and has seen several violent attacks in recent weeks.


South of Kirkuk, in a predominantly ethnic Turkmen region, a roadside bomb exploded next to the motorcade of the mayor of a local town, killing six of his bodyguards.


"The bomb targeted the convoy of Talib al-Bayati, the mayor of Suleiman Bek town," police Colonel Abbas Mohammed Amin said.



News Code 105469

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