Pipeline in Northern Iraq Ablaze

One of the 20-inch pipelines that feeds the main pipeline from the Kirkuk oilfields in northern Iraq has been set ablaze. Oil from the Kirkuk fields is transported to Turkey via this main pipeline.

Bahaa Hassan, firefighting manager for Iraq's Northern Oil Company said it would take a "few days" to repair and would have no impact on the timetable for the restoration of exports from Kirkuk for the first time since the U.S. invasion in March.

Earlier U.S. military spokeswoman Major Josslyn Aberle had told reporters she thought the new blaze was on a line feeding the Baiji refinery. Hassan said it was not clear whether or not the blaze, eight kilometers north of Baiji, was another in the series of sabotage attacks that have hampered post-war Iraqi oil sales. Iraq's northern Kirkuk exports have remained close since the war. The U.S. military said this week it hoped to see the line reopened by about mid-October.

Baghdad has relied on deliveries from its southern fields for vital export revenues to help finance post-war rebuilding efforts.

The northern pipeline runs southeast from the Kirkuk oilfields to the Baiji refinery before pumping northwest across the Turkish border to the Ceyhan export terminal on the Mediterranean.

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