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Explosion Strikes Oil Pipeline In Southern Iraq

Updated:
BAGHDAD (AP) _ A bomb struck an oil pipeline Thursday, cutting off supplies and causing a huge fire in southern Iraq near the border with Kuwait, an official said.

The pipeline carries oil from surrounding fields to storage tanks in Basra for export to the Gulf region, according to the official with the South Oil Co. But he said the tanks were full and export supplies had not yet been affected.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media, said the explosion occurred about midnight and the fire raged for hours before it was extinguished in the afternoon.

He said oil had stopped flowing from the fields to the storage tanks but supplies were sufficient and exports were not affected.

The attack occurred just north of Safwan near the border with Kuwait, the official said, adding that he expected the fire to be extinguished later Thursday. The Oil Ministry in Baghdad could not immediately be reached for comment.

Iraq exports about 2 million barrels of oil a day of which about 1.6 million barrels are exported through the port of Basra and come 300,000 are being pumped from the northern city of Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Oil production has plummeted since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 as the oil pipelines have faced repeated insurgent sabotage, attacks on maintenance crews, alleged corruption, theft and mismanagement.
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