Iraq to use drones to protect oil facilities: Minister

Iraq to use drones to protect oil facilities: Minister
Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:32:59

Iraqi Oil Minister Abdel-Karim Luaibi has said that Baghdad has given priority to protection of oil facilities and operators, thus it has made ready drones to start flying over the Basra region.

Iraq expects oil exports to reach 2.6 million barrels per day this month and is taking special security precautions in its oil-rich south, Luaibi said Wednesday, speaking on a tour of the giant Rumaila oil field that pumps more than a third of Iraq’s daily output.

He said current daily production was running at 3.15 million bpd and that exports were expected to pick up from last month’s dip to 2.423 million bpd, attributed by officials to maintenance work and expansion of a berth at Basra oil terminal.

July’s expected 2.6 million bpd export level would match the level of southern exports in May which were the highest since the US-led invasion of 2003.

Iraq’s northern shipments have been halted since February due to an attack by insurgents on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline.

But Luaibi said last month’s assault by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had not had any effect on oil production or export operations further south.

“I met the foreign companies working in Basra and I assured them that the security situation is very stable in the oilfields in the south,” the minister told reporters.

Despite this, authorities have taken extra security steps, and Luaibi said two drones were ready to start monitoring the skies over Basra “to provide a clearer picture of the southern oilfields and energy installations. ... This is the first time Iraq is using drones to fly over the energy installations the south.”

Iraq said two years ago that it was buying unmanned drones from the US to help protect its southern oil platforms, and that it expected the drones to be operating by the end of 2012.


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