Iraqi oil minister mulls northern provincial reconstruction

March 28 (UPI) — Oil companies working in northern Iraq have been called on to assist with a reconstruction campaign that began after liberation from ISIS, the oil minister said.

Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said he ordered oil companies to pave roads and restore parts of the infrastructure in Ninevah province. The state-run oil company, meanwhile, is tasked with harnessing a national reconstruction effort in the north.

“He confirmed also that the ministry was able to rehabilitate and restart many oil facilities, gas factories, reservoirs and gas filling stations in the province,” the ministry stated Thursday.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in late August that Nineveh province and its capital, Mosul, were liberated from the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, ISIS, and Daesh. That led the federal government to start a reconstruction campaign in the region after years of battling the terrorist threat.

Crude oil from northern Iraq flows primarily by truck and through a pipeline from territory controlled officially by the Kurdish government to Ceyhan. A second pipeline runs north from Kirkuk, which lies to the east of Ninevah, though it was damaged so badly by Islamic State militants that parts of it need to be rebuilt.

British energy company BP suggested in October it was in broader talks with efforts in Kirkuk, though so far has been tight lipped in its potential role in northern Iraq.

The northern reconstruction campaign came as Luaibi met in Baghdad with Mohammed Barkindo, the secretary-general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The Iraqi minister said coordinated efforts with OPEC were essential to international oil market stability.

Iraq is the second-largest OPEC producer, behind Saudi Arabia, and is contributing to the effort to drain a surplus on the five-year average in global crude oil inventories through voluntary production cuts.

Iraqi oil production in February was 4.4 million barrels per day, down by about a half percent from January.