BAGHDAD: Oil pumping from Iraq's northern Kirkuk fields stopped on Thursday after Kurdish forces were deployed to search for explosives said to have been planted by Islamic State, sources from the Kurdish security forces and oil executives said.
"They ordered the shutdown of the pumping station for security reasons and that caused a halt of Kirkuk oil exports to Turkey" through a pipeline that crosses Kurdish territory, a senior executive from state-run North Oil Co (NOC) said. The executive was referring to Kurdish security forces who have controlled the area since 2014, when the Iraqi army withdrew in the face of Islamic State's advance. A Kurdish security officer confirmed taking control of the oil pumping station.
The Kirkuk fields were pumping around 120,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the pipeline before the shutdown, the NOC executive said. The Kurdish security forces declined to say when crude flow could be resumed in the station, located around 15 km (10 miles) west of Kirkuk, two NOC sources said. "We officially asked the Kurdish forces when the pumping station could resume operations, but they refused to give a specific timing," one of them said.