Argus Media Limited

01/29/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 01/29/2023 07:15

Basrah-Aqaba oil pipeline ‘will never be’: Iraq militia

Iraqi aspirations to move ahead with a long-planned crude pipeline from Basrah to Aqaba in Jordan have been dealt a major blow after the head of a power Shia military group in Iraq said the project will "never" happen.

"Jordanians must know their battle is doomed for failure. [The Basrah-Aqaba oil pipeline] will never be," said Al-Asadi, head of Iraq's Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba (HaN). "Let them try and they shall witness what happens to them and whoever collaborates with them."

HaN is known for its extremely close ties with Iran. Al-Asadi issued the statement after Iraqi lawmaker Mustafa Jabbar Sanad revealed that Jordanian officials - including the speaker of parliament, the Jordanian king's advisor and the head of intelligence - had met with senior Iraqi Shia, Sunni and Kurdish officials and agreed on the pipeline's implementation.

Sanad is a member of the pro-Iran Shia Co-ordination Framework group and was behind a lawsuit against the federal government in Baghdad over monthly payments to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Iraq's speaker of parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi said on 14 January that the Basra-Aqaba pipeline "will see the light", following a meeting with his Jordanian counterpart Ahmad Al-Safadi during an official four-day visit to Iraq.

Al-Halbousi said the project will be executed as soon as the new government in Baghdad overcomes certain obstacles, not least the high cost of the pipeline. Baghdad's most recent estimate is that project "will not exceed $8.5bn", down from its previous estimate of "below $9bn". Costs and financing have been major barriers for the project for several many years, with both Iraq and Jordan looking for ways to cut expenses.

The proposed pipeline consists of two sections. A 2mn b/d capacity line extending from Basrah to Haditha near the Syrian border would transport crude to Iraqi refineries and power stations. A second 1mn b/d pipeline would extend from Haditha to Aqaba in northern Jordan.

By Bachar Halabi