April 24, 2004

'Suicide speedboats' attack Iraqi oil terminal.

Occupation military authorities in Iraq say that at leat one boat exploded against a tanker tied up to an oil terminal near Basra, a second may have done so, and a third boat was turned back while attempting a similar attack. No damage was reported to the oil terminal.

From the BBC story on the attack:

The Bakr terminal - also known as the Basra terminal - lies about 15 kilometres (9 miles) south of Iraq's main port, Umm Qasr.

It is believed to be the first maritime attack on Iraqi oil installations since the March 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

As a target, the terminal had everything, says the BBC's Lucy Williamson. Not only political important, the oil exported through the southern port of Basra is also economically crucial in the country which badly needs investment.

It is also symbolically linked in the minds of many Iraqis to the reasons behind the invasion, she says.

From a Reuters report:

Officials at Iraq's Southern Oil Company said the Basra terminal had been shut down.

"All workers were evacuated (from the Basra terminal). We are concerned about the possibility of more attacks," an official stationed in the Faw Peninsula said.

Iraq is almost completely dependent on the terminal -- which is in Britain's sector of responsibility in the country -- to export around 1.9 million barrels per day, providing badly needed funding for a country battered by war and violence.

The attack on the oil terminal could be more significant than it seems at first glance: The economic and political cost of a successful major attack on Iraq's oil industry would be enormous. Now that insurgents have demonstrated the capability to attack marine oil installations, the US and UK will have to divert resource to prevent such attacks.

Posted by Magpie at April 24, 2004 10:24 PM | Iraq | Technorati links |