Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Medhi Saleh said on March 27th that Baghdad had started technical studies for building a new oil pipeline to Syria to replace one that industry sources said was reopened in November after being closed for nearly two decades.
Saleh was quoted by the al-Bayan newspaper of the U.A.E. as saying that: “Work is underway on a new oil pipeline for exporting Iraqi oil to Syria because the old pipeline has become unsuitable for use as it has not been used for the last 20 years.”
He added that: “Technical studies have started and the project will be offered to an international company. As for implementation, it is linked to a political decision.”
While U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell had in February said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had agreed to put the pipeline under U.N. control, Iraqi officials continue to deny that the line is in use.
Undersecretary of the Iraqi oil ministry Taha Hmoud said also on March 27th that Baghdad would soon send a delegation to Jordan to discuss the construction of an oil pipeline between the two neighbors.
The $350 million pipeline would carry Iraqi crude from the pumping station in Haditha to the Jordanian refinery of al-Zarqa.
Iraqi Oil Minister Amer Rasheed had said in October that Baghdad had finished plans to start building the Iraqi segment of the line and was awaiting Jordanian authorization for the work to begin.
Hmoud said that Amman was conducting surveys on the pipeline and had contacted several international companies to seek technical help.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)