News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqProtecting Iraq's oil supply

Protecting Iraq’s oil supply

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The Guardian: The frigate HMS Cornwall is on patrol as the lead ship of Combined Task Force 158, whose UN-backed mission is to protect Iraq’s oil platforms and exports against pirates, smugglers, and terrorists. The Guardian

Richard Norton-Taylor

The frigate HMS Cornwall is on patrol as the lead ship of Combined Task Force 158, whose UN-backed mission is to protect Iraq’s oil platforms and exports against pirates, smugglers, and terrorists.

The platforms are critical to the economic and political reconstruction of Iraq, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday. They pump out oil that accounts for 90% of the country’s GDP. An attack in 2004 led to a two-day shutdown costing up to $28m (£14.2m), the MoD said. The knock-on effect was a spike on the world oil market, causing a further loss of some $6bn.

Sailors and Royal Marines operate with US and Australian ships and the Iraqi navy on security operations centred around the Khawr al Amaya and Al Basra oil terminals just south of the Al Faw peninsula, home to Iraq’s largest port, Umm Qasr.

The northern Gulf is strategically and economically important for both Iran and Iraq, aggravating the genuine difficulties in marking boundaries. As the Cornwall’s commanding officer Commodore Nick Lambert put it said yesterday: “The extent and definition of territorial waters in this part of the world is very complicated.”

Eight British sailors and marine commandos were seized in July 2004 after three patrol boats were said to have strayed into the Iranian side of the Shatt al-Arab waterway. The men were blindfolded, held for three days, and paraded on Iranian television. Iran kept the boats, along with weapons, ammunition, navigational equipment and radios.

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