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Iraq re-opens North Refinery in Baiji closed for a decade

February 23, 2024 at 2:32 pm

A general view shows Iraq’s largest oil refinery in the northern town of Baiji 05 August 2003. [STAN HONDA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Iraq, on Friday, re-opened its North Refinery in Baiji that was shut for a decade during the violence and chaos that followed the US-led invasion in 2003, which made it nearly impossible to run one of the country’s most vital energy complexes, Reuters reports.

The fall of Saddam Hussein was meant to bring stability and prosperity to major OPEC oil producer, Iraq, after years of economic mismanagement and military misadventures brought the country to its knees.

Instead, Iraqis suffered from an insurgency, a sectarian civil war and then the advent of Al Qaeda and, later, Daesh, which killed tens of thousands of people.

The Baiji refinery complex was a high profile victim of the chaos, a focal point for fighting between security forces and militants for months on end.

Al Qaeda had enough control over the Baiji area that it was able to intimidate refinery workers and hijack its refined products. It sold the products to neighbouring countries and used the profits to finance its insurgency.

The refinery was shut in 2014 when Daesh fighters seized it after taking over one third of the country’s territory. Daesh stole oil and petroleum products from areas it controlled in an effort to create a self-sustaining empire.

It has a refining capacity of 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) after reopening, which would bring the total capacity of the Baiji refining complex to 290,000 bpd.

Iraq aims to reach self-sufficiency in oil derivatives by mid-next year, Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani said in the re-opening ceremony.

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