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Rumaila South Oilfield Shut After Bombs Hit Pipeline

Source: Reuters 10/8/2011, Location: Middle East

Output at Iraq's Rumaila oilfield has been cut to 530,000 barrels per day from about 1.24 million bpd after two bombs hit pipelines on Friday and halted some production, a senior Iraqi oil official said.

Dhiya Jaffar, the head of state-run South Oil Co. (SOC) told Reuters the approximately 700,000 bpd in halted output could be resumed partially from Rumaila on Sunday and it could take three days to restore normal production at the field. He said stored oil would keep export levels the same.

"Production at Rumaila was around 1.24 million barrels, but after the bomb attacks we had to stop output at Rumaila South on Friday 8 pm. It was producing 700,000 barrels at the time," Jaffar told Reuters.

Exports from Basra were at 1.58 million bpd on Saturday compared with 1.78 million bpd on Friday, a Basra shipping source told Reuters.

Basra, which handles the bulk of Iraq's oil exports, has generally seen fewer attacks this year than other cities in the country following an overall decline in levels of violence since the peak of sectarian conflict in Iraq in 2006-2007. Two production stations at Rumaila South could be restarted on Sunday and operation at the remaining units could be resumed in three days, Jaffar said.

Two bombs hit Rumaila's pipeline network late on Friday and police said they had found evidence of explosives planted underneath the pipelines at the field developed by BP and Chinese partner CNPC.

"It was a security breach and we are carrying out a through investigation to make sure such attacks will not be repeated," Jaffar said.

BP said it had to stop some of the production from the Rumaila oilfield after SOC requested it.

"We have been asked to curtail some of the production from Rumaila. We understand from South Oil Company there may be damage to export lines outside of the field," a BP spokesman told Reuters.

Officials at the SOC said production units in Rumaila North were operating normally.

Last June, a bomb attack on an oil storage depot near the Zubair oilfield in Basra set one oil storage tank ablaze, but caused no casualties.

Rumaila, the workhorse of Iraq's oil industry, has estimated reserves of around 17 billion barrels and produces the bulk of Iraq's total output of 2.9 million bpd now.4

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