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Last Updated: Monday, 24 October 2005, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Iraqi oil exports grind to a halt
Northern Oil Protection Force member secures attacked Iraqi pipeline
The latest attacks could take as long as a month to repair
Oil exports from Iraq have been completely halted by a combination of attacks and bad weather, reports say.

Four sabotage attacks brought exports from Northern Iraq to a halt on Sunday and officials warned the damage may take a month to repair.

The problem worsened on Monday when a pipeline carrying crude to the Turkish port of Ceyhan was hit in an attack.

Meanwhile, bad weather has prevented tankers from loading at terminals in the south, Agence France-Presse said.

Shut down

"Exports of crude oil have been stopped since Friday because of bad weather and high waves (in the Gulf) that prevent tankers from hooking up" to terminals in southern Iraq, an oil ministry spokesman told the news agency.

Ahead of the stoppage, exports from the south of the country had been as high as 1.6 million barrels a day.

In the north, Sunday's attacks hit a gathering centre for at least four wells in the country, around 40 miles west of the city of Kirkuk.

On Monday, three mortars hit a set of oil and gas pipelines that had already been hit on Thursday, setting at least 16 oil pipelines on fire, news agency AFP said.

Oil plays a vital part in Iraq's economy with crude exports making up 97% of the government's revenues.


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