BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Trucked exports of oil from Iraq to neighbouring Jordan have been halted due to deteriorating security in Anbar province where militants have overrun the city of Falluja, an oil ministry spokesman said.
When the exports were halted was not clear, but Asim Jihad said the volume in question was between 10,000 and 12,000 barrels of crude per day (bpd).
“Due to security developments in Anbar and because the transfer of oil to Jordan is done by truck, which needs safe passage to cross, exports were stopped,” Jihad said. “As soon as the reasons are removed exports will resumed.”
An official from Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organisation said Baghdad and Amman had taken a joint decision to pause shipments while military operations in Anbar were ongoing and also said they would resume as soon as the security situation improved.
The trucked volumes to Jordan are small - Iraq’s oil exports in January averaged 2.228 million bpd - but the halt is likely to heighten concerns about the impact of security on plans to rebuild the country’s oil industry.
Insurgents have been regaining ground in Iraq over the past year, particularly in Sunni-dominated Anbar, which is in western Iraq and shares borders with Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
The Iraqi army is currently shelling Anbar’s city of Falluja in preparation for a possible ground assault to drive out anti-government fighters who seized control on January 1.
Most of Iraq’s oil is produced and exported from the relatively peaceful south.
Iraq is planning to build an $18-billion pipeline to Jordan to export 1 million barrels bpd of crude, of which 150,000 bpd will supply Jordan’s Zarqa refinery.
The remainder would be exported through the Red Sea port of Aqaba, reducing Iraq’s reliance on the Strait of Hormuz shipping route.
Reporting by Raheem Salman; additional reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; writing by Isabel Coles; editing by Jason Neely