A Wild Weekend in Iraq

Published in Discoveries. ∼ Updated Oct 6, 2019

On the evening of Friday,September 7^th^ 2018, news reports were released by Reuters saying that employees at the West Qurna 2 water treatment plant in southern Iraq were beingheld hostage by protesters. The following day, Reuters issued another report saying that the hostages had been released an hour later.

We still haven’t seen a drop in exports coming out of Iraq. After so many years of war, it would be a surprise if the oil fields weren’t properly secured by government forces as well as private security. Oil is after all the single largest lifeline to the nation’s economy.

The Al-Basrah Oil Terminal (ABOT) is located 50km offshore from the mainland, and has its own security, so it was never a cause for concern. As you can see here, while this hostage crisis was said to be happening, all four berths were busy loading oil aboard Suezmax and VLCC supertankers:

In addition; all of the additional SBM’s (Single-Buoy Mooring) were also loading oil aboard tankers.

Here’s the West Qurna 2 field the morning after the hostage taking. The black gas flares indicate no visible disruption to oil production.


Can’t see much? No worries; we know how hard these things can be to read sometimes. Check out the 5 day animation instead, using NASA’s flame filter.

We compared the number of barrels per day in exports over the past 14 days (August 27^th^ to September 9^th^).

August September Barrel Difference
Southern Iraq 3,518,091 3,767,567 249,476
Northern Iraq (Kurdistan Regional Government) 439,863 444,644 4,781
Total 3,957,954 4,212,211 254,257

As you can see, these protests have not had a measurable or significant negative impact on exports

…Or so we believed until this tweet by @Kirkuknow_DT was published.  

Kirkuknow is saying that a pipeline in the northern town of Dubz (north-west of Kirkuk, in the Kurdistan region) had exploded. As firefighters were arriving to the scene, another explosion took place - deliberately this time - to attack them as well. Two firefighters were injured. According to Kurdistan’s news outlet, Rudaw, the attack was orchestrated by some remaining elements of ISIS/Daesh - and sure enough, here it is: 35.635417 North ,44.107895 East.

Satellite photos were captured by Planet Labs.

Even though it is too soon to determine the impact on KRG exports, we will keep a close watch and report the number(s) in our coming 14 day report for September, scheduled for release less than a week from today, on the 16^th^ of September.

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