Friday, August 08, 2003

Iraq's northern Kirkuk oil pipeline, crucial to raising Iraqi crude exports, will reopen very soon, Iraq's acting Oil Minister Thamir Ghadhban said Thursday.

"There was no problem with the line itself. The control station unfortunately was looted. We are installing one as a short-term remedy," Ghadhban told a press conference in Baghdad. "We hope to begin pumping very soon."

His comments appear to confirm Baghdad's intention of raising crude exports to help fund the post-war rebuilding program, despite doubts about the pipeline's condition.

Colonel Robert Nicholson, the U.S. army engineer responsible for a region through which the pipeline runs, told Reuters Wednesday it would be back in action in the middle of next week.

Adel al-Kazzaz the head of Northern Oil Co., which runs the Kirkuk oilfields, had said earlier Wednesday he was worried the line was not yet fit to resume operations.

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