By John Lee.
Sabotage and theft from pipelines has cost the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) an estimated $501 million (584 billion Iraqi dinars) since the start of July, the KRG's Ministry of Natural Resources said in a statement:
"Persistent theft and attempted theft from the Iraq-Turkey crude oil pipeline in the southeast of Turkey continues to damage the welfare of the people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq at a critical time for their security and stability.
"Following the blast on the pipeline in Turkey at the end of the July, the KRG noticed clear public assurances from those involved that such an attack would not be repeated.
"However, organized gangs still regularly target the pipeline and are stealing oil. These gangs are understood to have close links to the perpetrators of the sabotage in July.
"From July 1 to August 17, crude oil flows from the Kurdistan Region have been regularly interrupted because of the damage caused by “hot-tapping” the pipeline and stealing oil.
"The estimated revenue loss to the KRG caused by such attacks is $251 million. This is in addition to the $250 million damage to KRG finances caused by the explosion on the pipeline at the end of July, making total losses in the period (July 1-August 17) of $501 million.
"The Kurdistan Region of Iraq faces an economic crisis due to the budget shortfall from Baghdad, the fight against terrorism, the burden on the economy of hosting 1.8 m refugees and internally displaced people, and the drop in the oil price by over 50 per cent since the end of 2014.
"Revenue from crude oil export through the pipeline to Ceyhan represents the Kurdistan Region’s main means of survival. Without such revenue, salaries of peshmerga, the security forces and other key government workers cannot get paid.
"The attacks on the pipeline over the last six weeks in the southeast of Turkey have severely impaired the ability of the KRG to provide the government salaries for June. The KRG therefore calls once again on the perpetrators, and on those who control them and who profit from their activities to immediately halt the theft of oil from the pipeline carrying crude oil from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
"We also encourage the government of Turkey and the pipeline operator Botas to further enhance their efforts to secure the pipeline against attack.
"Whether intended or not, the theft of oil by these gangs serves only to hurt the people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and affect our ability to fight against Islamic State terrorism.
"Finally, we call on certain media organizations and politicians inside the Kurdistan Region, who are well aware of the facts, to stop misleading the public. Instead of blaming the Ministry of Natural Resources for events beyond its control, these irresponsible voices should set aside their narrow, self-serving interests, stand up for the people of the Kurdistan Region, and loudly condemn the acts of sabotage and theft that directly harm the people’s welfare."
(Money image via Shutterstock)