No sooner had Iraq stabilized northern oil production and exports after securing the pipeline to Ceyhan than came news of an attack, this time targeting a major oil field north of Kirkuk. Despite conflicting reports about the incident near the Bai Hasan field, the bombing exposed the vulnerability of energy installations at a time of rising violence and suggests insurgents may be going for bigger game.

Iraqi officials say output from northern oil fields, which has fluctuated widely due to repeated shutdowns of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline this year, is stable at around 650,000-670,000 b/d, a welcome addition to Iraq’s barrel count after the slump in southern output due to port maintenance, the first phase of which ended in mid-October. Exports from the north averaged 300,000-330,000 b/d after maintenance was completed on the pipeline, an Iraqi official in Kirkuk tells MEES. (CONTINUED - 502 WORDS)