Iraq reached agreement with Ranya International, a company that operates in Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), to build a refinery in Kirkuk in northern Iraq to produce 70 thousand barrels of oil products per day, the Iraq's Ministry of Oil said on Thursday.
The refinery represents "the first step" in investment in the refining sector of the country, Iraqi Minister of Oil, Jabbar Ali Hussein Al-Luiebi, was quoted as saying.
The Iraqi minister added that the refinery is expected to produce enough oil products to cover the local needs in Kirkuk and the nearby regions. He added that surplus product could be exported, however, he did not further elaborate on the possible export routes.
"The signature of this contract is synchronized with the efforts of the Ministry of Oil to develop the oil industry in Kirkuk, execute many development projects, rehabilitate the oil fields, facilities and infrastructure, and extend the oil pipelines," he continued.
Ranya International will build the refinery according to international standards, Jalal Haj Ahmed, the manager of the company, added.
Daesh militants who controlled the refinery from June 2014 to October 2015 extensively damaged Iraq’s biggest oil refinery, Baiji, which has a refining capacity of 140,000 - 180,000 barrels oil per day.
The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq and the country's Kirkuk district suffered major fuel shortages after the Baiji refinery fell to Daesh militants, necessitating the import of refined oil from neighboring countries such as Turkey and Iran.
All oil wells and facilities in Iraq are under the control of the central government after tension mounted between Baghdad and the KRG since Sept. 25, 2017, when Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas -- and in several disputed parts of the country -- voted on whether or not to declare independence from the Iraqi state.
Iraqi forces swiftly assumed control of strategic facilities throughout the province, including the North Oil Company, the Baba Gurgur oilfield, the K1 military base, the Mullah Abdullah oil refinery and Kirkuk’s main airport, among others.
By Ebru Sengul