Iraq oil exports resume after pipeline 'sabotage'
BAGHDAD - Iraq resumed pumping oil via a pipeline through Turkey after a fire resulting from an "act of sabotage" was brought under control, the Iraqi oil ministry said on Thursday.
"The pumping of oil was resumed at mid-day (0900 GMT) at the same rate after the fire was brought under control," ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said.
Jihad had earlier said an explosion hit the pipeline in Turkey at about 1:20 am (2220 GMT), halting exports.
A high-ranking official in Iraq's North Oil Company said the pipeline "was exposed to an act of sabotage."
A statement by the Sirnak regional government in Turkey meanwhile said that three blasts had hit a section of the pipeline running near the border city of Idil, in Sirnak province, sparking a fire.
The blaze was put out at around 0730 GMT, it said, adding that an operation has been launched to find those responsible.
Militants from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which operates in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region and across the border in Turkey, have sabotaged the pipeline several times in the past as part of its armed campaign against the Ankara government.
The pipeline was hit by an explosion in early February inside Turkey, leading to a halt in exports, which resumed via an alternative pipeline.
It has also been repeatedly attacked by Sunni Arab insurgents inside Iraq since the US-led invasion of the country in 2003.
The 970-kilometre (600-mile) pipeline runs from Iraq's northern oil hub of Kirkuk to the port of Ceyhan on Turkey's Mediterranean coast, pumping 450,000 to 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
Oil sales account for the vast majority of Iraqi government income and around two thirds of gross domestic product.
Most of Iraq's oil exports are shipped from the south.