Economy

Iraq develops Haditha oil refinery after ISIS-forced halt

By Khalid al-Taie

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Iraqi Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail at the opening ceremony of a new project to develop the Haditha oil refinery on October 3rd. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Oil Ministry]

Following years of war on terror, Anbar province is currently working on developing its oil industry and making use of its natural resources to achieve progress and serve the national economy.

Iraqi officials on October 8th announced the launch of a new project to develop one of the oldest and most important crude oil refineries in the country -- the Haditha refinery in western Anbar.

The Haditha refinery opened in 1949 with one production unit at a daily production capacity of 6,000 barrels. A second unit was added in 1982 with a daily production capacity of 10,000 barrels.

After the fall of Anbar to the hands of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) in 2015, the refinery was forced to halt production.

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Technicians at work at the Haditha oil refinery in October. [Photo courtesy of the North Refineries Company]

Fully operational refinery

An Iraqi official who asked to remain anonymous told Diyaruna the refinery resumed operations in 2018, gradually adding to the volume of its work.

Since the area around the refinery is now free from ISIS elements and the main routes leading to it have reopened, it is now operational at full capacity, he said.

Crude oil is extracted from the fields of Kirkuk province and shipped to the refinery.

The official said the initiative to bring the Haditha oil refinery back to full operational mode is the third of its kind in decades. The local engineering company has begun construction work on two additional units at a daily capacity of 10,000 barrels per unit. This will bring the total production capacity to 36,000 barrels a day.

Now that the region is safer and more stable, he said, the oil ministry is eager to advance the oil sector in Anbar.

Self-sufficiency

Hamza al-Jawahiri, an economist and oil expert, told Diyaruna that Anbar province has rich mineral resources and the potential to develop renewable energy sources.

Natural resources include phosphate and high purity sand used for producing silicon and electronic conductors, he said.

However, he said, Anbar still lacks large-scale oil projects as its significant gas reserves are not properly exploited.

The province's oil refining sector needs further development to be capable of producing multiple types of fuel, he said. The amount of oil production has a long way to go, as it must reach a higher level to support the region's demand.

Haditha mayor Mabrouk Hamid said officials hope developing the Haditha refinery will enhance the image of Anbar province as a key oil producer in the country.

Once the two new units are built, the expected output of oil from the refinery would pave the way for further development, he said, noting that officials expect the refinery's daily production to exceed 70,000 barrels, which would cover the local demand for fuel and possibly provide more.

The refinery is linked to other oil projects in the northern, central and southern provinces, he said.

"Any development will benefit the national oil sector," he told Diyaruna. "Moreover, the refinery's proximity to the western borders gives it export potential."

Moreover, "we have huge reserves of natural gas in the Ukaz field in al-Qaim (near the border with Syria) and there are efforts underway to invest there," he said.

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