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Iraq's oil exports mostly unaffected by violence so far

Smoke rises Thursday from an oil refinery in Beiji, in northern Iraq. A battle is raging for control of the refinery.

Associated Press

Smoke rises Thursday from an oil refinery in Beiji, in northern Iraq. A battle is raging for control of the refinery.

Part of Iraq's biggest oil refinery was in flames Wednesday. The forces under the banner of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have been fighting with the Iraqi military for control of the oil refinery in Beiji, which can refine up to 310,000 barrels a day.

How important is this refinery?

It is the biggest supplier of motor fuel for the northern part of Iraq and accounts for about one-third of the nation's refining capacity.

Has the fighting in Iraq disrupted its oil exports?

Very little. About three-quarters of Iraq's oil production is in the southern part of the country, where foreign oil companies have been helping to rehabilitate and expand output at giant oil fields that were discovered as long as half a century ago. Iraq's oil output in February reached 3.6 million barrels a day, the highest level since before Saddam Hussein came to power in 1979. Most of Iraq's oil still flows out of the Basra terminals, in southern Iraq, and onto tankers in the Persian Gulf.

Will this affect the price of gasoline in the United States and other parts of the world?

The fighting over the Beiji refinery has had no significant impact on international oil markets. The refinery did not export any oil products. But the intensified fighting has made oil traders and oil companies nervous; though far from the fighting, BP, which is working in the Rumaila field, has evacuated nonessential personnel. And international prices have increased since the ISIS advance accelerated. In the United States, the average price of $3.68 per gallon is the highest price for this time of year since 2008, the year gasoline hit its all-time high. The good news is that gasoline is not likely to spike above $4 as it did six years ago, experts say. Or even cross $3.90, as in 2011 and 2012.

Information from Washington Post and Associated Press was used in this report.

Iraq's oil exports mostly unaffected by violence so far 06/19/14 [Last modified: Thursday, June 19, 2014 9:20pm]
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