Israel to Get Iraqi Oil
- U.S. checking possibility of pumping oil from northern Iraq to Haifa,
By Amiram Cohen - Ha'aretz Aug 24, 2004
The United States has asked Israel to check the possibility of
pumping oil from Iraq to the oil refineries in Haifa. The request
came in a telegram last week from a senior Pentagon official to a top
Foreign Ministry official in Jerusalem.
The Prime Minister's Office, which views the pipeline to Haifa as
a "bonus" the U.S. could give to Israel in return for its unequivocal
support for the American-led campaign in Iraq, had asked the
Americans for the official telegram.
The new pipeline would take oil from the Kirkuk area, where some 40
percent of Iraqi oil is produced, and transport it via Mosul, and
then across Jordan to Israel. The U.S. telegram included a request
for a cost estimate for repairing the Mosul-Haifa pipeline that was
in use prior to 1948. During the War of Independence, the Iraqis
stopped the flow of oil to Haifa and the pipeline fell into disrepair
over the years.
The National Infrastructure Ministry has recently conducted research
indicating that construction of a 42-inch diameter pipeline between
Kirkuk and Haifa would cost about $400,000 per kilometer. The old
Mosul-Haifa pipeline was only 8 inches in diameter.
National Infrastructure Minister Yosef Paritzky said yesterday that
the port of Haifa is an attractive destination for Iraqi oil and that
he plans to discuss this matter with the U.S. secretary of energy
during his planned visit to Washington next month. Paritzky added
that the plan depends on Jordan's consent and that Jordan would
receive a transit fee for allowing the oil to piped through its
territory. The minister noted, however, that "due to pan-Arab
concerns, it will be hard for the Jordanians to agree to the flow of
Iraqi oil via Jordan and Israel."
Sources in Jerusalem confirmed yesterday that the Americans are
looking into the possibility of laying a new pipeline via Jordan and
Israel. (There is also a pipeline running via Syria that has not been
used in some three decades.)
Iraqi oil is now being transported via Turkey to a small
Mediterranean port near the Syrian border. The transit fee collected
by Turkey is an important source of revenue for the country. This
line has been damaged by sabotage twice in recent weeks and is
presently out of service.
In response to rumors about the possible Kirkuk-Mosul-Haifa pipeline,
Turkey has warned Israel that it would regard this development as a
serious blow to Turkish-Israeli relations.
Sources in Jerusalem suggest that the American hints about the
alternative pipeline are part of an attempt to apply pressure on
Iraq is one of the world's largest oil producers, with the potential
of reaching about 2.5 million barrels a day. Oil exports were halted
after the Gulf War in 1991 and then were allowed again on a limited
basis (1.5 million barrels per day) to finance the import of food and
medicines. Iraq is currently exporting several hundred thousand
barrels of oil per day.
During his visit to Washington in about two weeks, Paritzky also
plans to discuss the possibility of U.S. and international assistance
for joint Israeli-Palestinian projects in the areas of energy and
infrastructure, natural gas, desalination and electricity.
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