Friday, September 23, 2011

Explosion at Iraq Oil Field Partially Halts Output

Location: Rumaila Oil Field, Basra Province

An explosion at Iraq's biggest oil field on Tuesday sparked a massive fire that partially halted crude production, the state-owned South Oil Co. and Britain's BP said, according to media reports.

The blast, which left at least 15 people injured, occurred at a gas compressor at the Rumaila oil field, which runs along Iraq's border with Kuwait. BP and China's CNPC were in 2009 awarded a contract to boost production at the site.

An SOC executive said a maintenance team was changing equipment on the compressor when the explosion happened, causing the fire. A BP spokesman said the compressor was owned by the state-run South Gas Co. and not by BP or its partners. But because the Rumaila field feeds gas to the compressor, it was necessary to partially halt production, said the spokesman, without saying by how much.

Iraqi oil ministry spokesman, Assem Jihad said the fire was finally extinguished at 19:00hrs local time (16:00hrs GMT), after burning for eight hours. He said 15 people were injured in the blast and fire, while the SOC official put the toll at 19 hurt. Jihad added that repairs had already begun on the site.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Weekly Security Update for 1st September 2011

While last week was bloody in Iraq, levels of violence actually fell slightly in the country from the week before. Nonetheless, conditions should still be regarded as hostile, with dozens of people killed in a series of suicide bombings towards the end of Ramadan. As well as several such attacks in the centre of the country, one also hit the comparatively quiet city of Basrah in the south. In the north of the country the Turkish military also continues to target Kurdish terrorists based in the mountains.

While the holy month of Ramadan has often seen ceasefires signed between Iran, Turkey and the Kurdish separatists in the past, 2011 saw continued Turkish attacks against suspected PKK installations. However, while various political figures continue to criticise the action, and a number of civilians have been killed or had their property damaged, the operations are having little impact on the majority of businesses operating in the region. Conversely, the adjacent cities of Mosul and Kirkuk remain very hostile, with numerous bomb, shooting and even mortar attacks around the two cities last week. The police and Iraqi army remain the primary target for local militant groups, but an oil protection force officer and an employee of Bayji refinery were also targeted in separate attacks last week. All sectors should be considered at risk, with the oil and gas sector remaining an attractive target for criminals and terrorists alike.

Weekly Attacks in Iraq - the last 6 months
Levels of violence remain consistently high in the centre of the country, with three suicide attacks recorded last week, one in Fallujah, one in Karmah, and one in the west of Baghdad, targeting a large and high profile Sunni mosque. There will remain a risk of further suicide attacks after al-Qaeda in Iraq threatened to carry out 100 such attacks from the middle of Ramadan. While similarly bold statements of intent have not been fulfilled in the past the risk of mass casualty spectacular attacks should nonetheless be considered elevated at this time. Personnel should therefore avoid large gatherings of people, especially around religious sites, government facilities, security force installations and commercial areas, as these are the most attractive targets for terrorists intent on inflicting mass casualties.

Even the normally quiet south of the country is at risk of such attacks, with one of the suicide bombings recorded last week occurring in Basrah. The region should not be considered immune from Islamist terrorism, despite the fact that suicide bombings are normally associated with Sunni groups, whereas the southern provinces are predominantly Shi’ah. Personnel are advised to maintain vigilance in the region and bear in mind that there are no grounds for complacency.

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