Iraq to buy US drones for protection of oil fields
FILE - This Nov. 8, 2011 file photo shows a Predator B unmanned aircraft taxis at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. AP photoIraq is buying unmanned drones from the United States to help protect its southern oil platforms as the OPEC nation ramps up production after the withdrawal of the last American troops, U.S. and Iraqi officials said yesterday.
“Iraq’s navy has purchased U.S. drones to protect the country’s oil platforms in the south, from where most of Iraq’s oil is shipped,” said an official from the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq (OSCI), which is part of the U.S. embassy. The OSCI did not give further details of the number or type of unmanned aircraft. But Iraqi security officials confirmed plans to use drones to protect oil infrastructure. Iraqi forces took over responsibility for protecting the oil infrastructure in 2005, but until the withdrawal of U.S. troops, the U.S. military had provided aerial surveillance and other logistical support.
“According to the energy police plans, we intend to use the drones by the end of this year,” head of the energy protection force, Major General Hamid Ibrahim told Reuters. “We are in the process of training engineers.” The southern oilfields around Basra are the heart of Iraq’s production, where majors like BP, Exxon Mobil and Italy’s are working.