Iraq eyes options in case Hormuz closed

Iran has threatened retaliation for Western sanctions, including a possible halt of shipping through Strait of Hormuz.

Baghdad: Iraq is mulling options to boost
oil exports through Turkey or to reopen disused pipelines in
case Iran blocks the strategic Strait of Hormuz as threatened,
the planning minister said on Wednesday.

Iran has threatened retaliation for fresh Western
sanctions over its nuclear programme, including a possible
disruption of shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, a Gulf
chokepoint for global oil shipments.

"Government committees have been formed in Iraq" and have
discussed options "if, God forbid, the Strait of Hormuz is
closed," Planning Minister Ali Yusuf al-Shukri told a news
conference in Baghdad.

The vast majority of Iraq`s oil is exported from
terminals in the northern Gulf and passes through the Strait.

One option is increasing exports through a pipeline that
runs into Turkey to one million barrels per day (bpd), from
the current figure of 400 to 450,000 bpd, he said.

"We also discussed with the Lebanese and Syrian sides
activating the Baniyas-Tripoli pipeline," which has been
closed since 1990, he said.

He said another proposal submitted to the Iraqi cabinet
was to reopen a long-disused pipeline to Saudi Arabia, though
this idea had not yet been broached with Riyadh.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in an
interview earlier this month his country was worried by
US-Iran tensions and would be one of the worst affected if the
Strait of Hormuz was closed to shipments of crude oil.

"Unfortunately, Iraq till now did not build up the
infrastructure which could diversify the export of oil. Till
now the pipeline with Syria is not operative, the pipeline
with Turkey is still in low capacity," he said.

"Definitely, we urge both Iran and the United States
to... solve the problems in a good way," Dabbagh said.


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