ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – The Khabaz oil field wells in Kirkuk province have been on fire for 19 days as the Iraqi government fails to control the blaze.
Fuad Hussein, a member of Kirkuk Provincial Council in the Oil and Gas Committee, told Kurdistan24 that Kirkuk governorate and the Iraqi North Oil Company (NOC) officials have asked the Iraqi government to send more firefighters to control the flames, but have not received a response.
Based on an assessment by the Oil and Gas Committee, so far Khabaz oil field has lost 760,000 barrels of oil. “This will cost millions of dollars to repair if the fire is not controlled,” Hussein added.
Two Khabaz oil field wells in Kirkuk Province exploded on May 4 under the supervision of the Iraqi government.
According to a document obtained by Kurdistan24, Kirkuk local administration had requested the Iraqi government to employ 250 police officers to reinforce the security in the oil fields, but the request was rejected.
Kirkuk Chief of Police for Districts and Sub-districts, General Sarhad Qader, told Kurdistan24 that a few days after the attack, Kirkuk police arrested five suspects who later confessed to blowing up the oil fields with plans to detonate more fields in the area.
Gen. Qadir stated that more police enrollment from the local areas near the oil fields are needed to guard the area and prevent possible attacks. “Cooperation of Kirkuk police and Peshmerga forces may be required in this regard,” he added.
Khabaz field consists of several oil wells, and this is not the first time that the wells were exploded. Previously, Islamic State (IS) insurgents tried to attack the oil fields on several occasions but were Peshmerga forces stopped them.
Reporting by Baxtiyar Goran
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany and Ava Homa