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US Troops, Iraqis Step Up Security at Oil Pipelines

Days after thieves set off a huge explosion along Iraq’s most vital oil pipeline, U.S. troops have stepped up patrols and the Oil Ministry said Thursday it is working on a deal with southern tribal leaders to help protect the line from criminals and saboteurs. The pipeline has been closed since Monday, the day after thieves trying to steal oil breached the line, causing an explosion and oil spill. The pipeline is not expected to be back online for about another week, said Diyaa Mousawi, head of the pipeline department at the South Oil Company, which controls southern Iraq. Mousawi said the Oil Ministry would start discussing making cash payments to tribal leaders in return for help protecting the pipeline. Mousawi told The Associated Press that three of the thieves were killed in the explosion. He said two giant containers were found near the breaches, about 25 miles west of Najaf, one with a capacity of 11,600 gallons and the other able to hold 4,200 gallons. The pipeline, which runs between the Rumaila oil fields in the southern city of Basra and the main switching station at the western town of Haditha, is considered the country’s main oil lifeline, Mousawi said. He said it has a capacity of transporting 1 million barrels a day, but was recently operating at about 120,000 barrels a day. It was the first serious damage caused to the pipeline in the southern part of the country. Full Story

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