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|U.S. looks at reopening Iraq-Israel oil pipeline
Pentagon asks Israel about feasibility of reactivating Mosul-Haifa facilities
World Net Daily
The U.S. has asked Israel to report on the feasibility of pumping oil from the Kirkuk wells to the refineries in Haifa.
G2 Bulletin reported exclusively last April that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon offered to reactivate the old Mosul-Haifa oil pipeline in a move certain to bring sharp reactions in an already tense Middle East. The U.S. request came in a telegram last week from a senior Pentagon official to a top Foreign Ministry official in Jerusalem.
The original pipeline was built by the Iraqi-British oil company in the late 1920s and early 1930s and was among the main targets of the 1936-1939 Arab revolt.
The pipeline carried Iraqi crude oil to the Haifa refineries on the Mediterranean. From there it was shipped to Europe. But the facility was constantly attacked by Arab guerrillas. Most often it was targeted by Sheikh Az-Adin Kassem, who was finally killed in an engagement with British forces.
Kassem is buried in Haifa, and his name was adopted by Hamas as a symbol of heroism. The defense of the pipeline gave birth to the organization of Jewish underground forces which cooperated with the British and formed special night squads led by legendary Bible-carrying British officer Charles Orde Wingate.
A Christian hero of the Israeli military legacy, Wingate was killed in Burma during operations in 1944.
Immediately following the news report of Israel's readiness to cooperate with the U.S., Iraq and Jordan on reactivating the pipeline closed down in 1948, the Az-Adin Kassem Brigades issued a warning that they would never allow the plan to materialize.
Sources in Amman said the Jordanian intelligence agency warned both the Jordanian and the Israeli governments that pro-Iraqi and pro-Palestinian terrorists might focus their hostile attention on the proposal.
Turkey is also reportedly concerned over the Israeli idea.
Turkish experts believe that Israel plans to revive the pipeline, a potential rival to the pipeline linking the oil-rich city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq with the Turkish Mediterranean port of Yumurtalik.
They also say that the Mosul-Haifa pipeline has been closed for 55 years, and it could not be able to meet the world's demand for oil. But it might be activated with a $3 billion investment in a period of five to six months.
If the Iraqi-Israeli pipeline is reactivated, very little will remain for repair, he said, adding that although the pipeline was closed in 1948, its route is very comfortable and its hydraulic projects are ready.
The annual capacity of the Kirkuk-Yumurtalik pipeline is 71 million tons, while the capacity of the Mosul-Haifa pipeline is 5 million tons.
The new pipeline would take oil from the Kirkuk area, where some 40 percent of Iraqi oil is produced, and transport it via Mosul, and then across Jordan to Israel. The U.S. telegram included a request for a cost estimate for repairing the Mosul-Haifa pipeline that was in use prior to 1948. During the War of Independence, the Iraqis stopped the flow of oil to Haifa and the pipeline fell into disrepair over the years.
The National Infrastructure Ministry has recently conducted research indicating that construction of a 42-inch diameter pipeline between Kirkuk and Haifa would cost about $400,000 per kilometer. The old Mosul-Haifa pipeline was only 8 inches in diameter.
Iraq is one of the world's largest oil producers, with the potential of reaching about 2.5 million barrels a day. Oil exports were halted after the Gulf War in 1991 and then were allowed again on a limited basis to finance the import of food and medicines. Iraq is currently exporting several hundred thousand barrels of oil per day.