Islamic State militants targeting wells in the Ajil oilfield
A witness and military source said Islamic State fighters ignited oil wells in the Ajil oil field northeast of the city of Tikrit. The fires were started in the hopes that they would shield the ISIS fighters from attack by Iraqi military helicopters, reports Reuters.
Shi’ite militiamen and Iraqi soldiers have mounted their largest offensive yet in an effort to push ISIS out of Tikrit and surrounding towns.. The witness who was accompanying the Iraqi militia and soldiers said black smoke could be seen rising from the oil field Wednesday afternoon.
Before ISIS took control of Ajil last June, the field produced 25 MBOPD that were shipped to the Kirkuk refinery to the north-east, as well as 150 MMcf/d piped to the government-controlled Kirkuk power station. The field has 500 MMBO in reserves, according to a report authored by Kamil al-Mehaidi, a petroleum adviser.
Last July, an engineer at the site was reported as saying that ISIS fighters were pumping lower volumes of oil from Ajil, fearing that their lack of experience and primitive extraction techniques could ignite the gas.
Record production in 2014
Despite its supply disruptions and security threats, Iraq was the second-leading contributor to global oil growth in 2014, behind the United States. Iraq accounted for almost 60% of production growth among OPEC members last year. The country’s crude oil production, which averaged almost 3,400 MBOPD in 2014, was 330 MBOPD above 2013 levels, despite heightened security threats from ISIS fighters.
ISIS attacks in northern Iraq in early June 2014 reduced regional production and refinery operations, not including the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. These attacks did not affect southern production and exports, which accounted for 95% of Iraq’s total crude oil exports in 2014.
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