Iraq and Kurdistan fight to control oil rich Kirkuk

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By Katy Dartford
Iraq and Kurdistan fight to control oil rich Kirkuk

Once again, one of the most important oil wells in the Middle East lies within a war zone.

Output from Kirkuk fell in mid-October, when Iraqi forces took back control of the northern region’s oilfields from Kurdish security forces, known as Peshmerga, who had been there since 2014.

Iraqi engineers took over the positions at the pipelines, replacing the expelled Kurds.

“Oil is Iraq’s biggest asset. The people live from the oil. Agriculture and everything else declines without it. The oil is the most important asset.” said oil engineer, Hussam Albeat.

Iraq has accused the Peshmerga of damaging the pipeline in order to cause problems in the transportation of oil to Turkey.

Operations were suspended at some crucial Kirkuk fields and Iraq saw its daily output fall by 120 thousand barrels a day to just over 4 million barrels.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces were deployed in Kirkuk in 2014, when the Iraqi army fled in the face of an advance by Islamic State militants.

The Kurdish move prevented the militants taking control of the oilfields.

Now Iraqi flags are replacing Kurdistan flags in Iraqi occupied Kirkuk.