Syria-Iran pipeline to be reopened in November - MEES
October 31, Nicosia (dpa) - Iraq and Syria were reported Tuesday to
have agreed to reopen next month a strategic oil export pipeline in a step
that will initially add 200,000 barrels per day to supplies on the international
market-besides making another significant dent in U.N. sanctions against
The Nicosia-based Middle East Economic Survey (MEES), reporting this
in a news flash to its subscribers, said the 1.1-million b/d ``strategic
pipeline'' will start operating at a reduced capacity, probably around
mid-November, by pumping 200,000 b/d per day of Basra Light crude to Syria.
Syria will process the high-quality crude - which it will get at an
unspecified ``discount off international prices'' - at its local refineries.
This will enable it to export an equivalent amount of its own crude
to world markets. The MEES report said that the step was partly aimed at
showing Arab displeasure at the perceived U.S. bias toward Israel in the
Middle East dispute.
It was also intended to ``send a clear signal to the U.S. that it could
not turn a blind eye to the violations of the U.S. sanctions regime by
its friends in the region (i.e. Jordan and Turkey) while expecting others
to adhere to it'', MEES said.
The report said Turkey has been importing crude oil and products to
the tune of around 100,000-150,000 b/d from Iraq, with Jordan doing the
same for the past decade for around 96,000 b/d.
Some 70,000 b/d also finds its way through Iran's territorial waters
to the southern Gulf. All this is done outside the framework of the U.N.-sanctioned
oil-for-food program, without obtaining permission from relevant U.N. committees,
the report noted.
The strategic twin-pipe oil export tube was closed in 1982 after Syria
supported Iran in the Iraq-Iran war that erupted in 1980.
MEES said that Iraqi technicians have finished repairing one of the
32-inch pipelines in the system in both countries by virtue of an agreement
reached in 1998 to resume full-scale pumping operations.
Original plans called for pumping to be started at an earlier date,''but
because of technical problems related to leaks at high pressures during
testing, it was decided to carry out further tests and repairs before starting
commercial operation,'' said the report.
It did not mention a target date or timetable for upgrading the pipeline
to operate at full capacity.