An Iraqi flag is seen on a military vehicle at an oil field in Dibis area on the outskirts of Kirkuk, Iraq October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
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When the Iraqi army and Iranian-backed Shiite militia entered a key oil processing facility in Iraq's north to retake it from Kurdish peshmerga forces last week, the installation was deserted and its alarm bells ringing. Engineers and workers on the facility, which processes oil from two major fields in the Kirkuk area of predominantly Sunni Kurdistan, had fled, fearing the military advance.NOC crews entered oil facilities in the Bai Hassan and Avana fields on Oct. 17 for the first time since 2014, when peshmerga forces drove Daesh (ISIS) from the area and found all crude oil stations unmanned.Resuming normal oil production and exports will be challenging and will take at least another week and will only succeed if Iraqi and Kurdish engineers agree to cooperate, according to both sides.The pumping and operational stations for both oil fields are located in the city of Dahuk, which unlike Kirkuk is still under the control of the peshmerga forces.Kirkuk, one of the oldest oil areas in the Middle East, had long been under the control of Iraqi forces until it was overrun by Daesh.
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