ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi police forces on Thursday seized two trucks which were smuggling crude oil from a pipeline in Kirkuk Province, the area’s designated energy police directorate stated.
The operation was carried out by the Directorate General of the Energy Police in Kirkuk’s Dibis district, where the smugglers were siphoning oil going from Sarlo Station to Khormala Station.
The smugglers used an extended 20-meter plastic pipe long to siphon the crude oil, according to the police statement.
Authorities did not mention how many suspects were arrested on site but did state they had launched an investigation into the robbery.
Over the past few years, local security forces have arrested groups of people vandalizing oil pipelines or stealing crude oil, some of which is delivered to neighboring Iran via trucks.
Earlier in March, police confiscated two trucks at the site of a robbery, with the assailants being tried in court.
The oil-rich, ethnically diverse province consists of Turkmen, Arabs, and Christians with a Kurdish majority. It is one of the disputed areas claimed by both the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government of Iraq.
On Oct. 16, 2017, the Iraqi army and Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi attacked Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk and other disputed territories, taking control of the oil fields the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Natural Resources had previously managed since 2014.
Exports from oil fields in Kirkuk Province to Turkey’s Ceyhan port rose to 99,000 bpd in March from 63,000 bpd the month before, according to the Iraqi Oil Ministry’s statement.
The disputed province of Kirkuk has some of the oldest and largest oilfields in the Middle East.
Iraq is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) second-largest producer just after Saudi Arabia and currently has an output below its maximum capacity of nearly five million bpd.
Editing by Nadia Riva