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Maâ??Moun Sami Rashid, the governor of the Al Anbar province, Iraq, speaks of the future contributions of the newly opened K3 Oil Refinery and its ability to help the Iraqi people during a ceremony at the refinery July 18. Over 100 government and community leaders gathered at the refinery to celebrate its reopening after a three-year hiatus. The refinery is capable of processing 16,000 barrels of crude oil per day and will create new jobs for the local community. The refinery will also make the Al Anbar province capable of meeting its fuel needs and will eventually provide fuel for a power station, which will supply the entire Al Anbar province with an ample supply of electricity. ::r::::n::::r::::n::::r::::n::

Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul Torres

Oil refinery fuels Al Anbar forward

18 Jul 2008 | Lance Cpl. Paul Torres

As the doors of the K3 Oil Refinery open, so does the future of the Iraqi people.

Members of the Al Anbar government gathered to celebrate the Haditha oil refinery’s resumption of production for the first time in three years July 18.  Ministers, city officials and military generals also gathered to recognize the significance of the oil refinery to Al Anbar province and all of Iraq.

“The opening of the Haditha oil refinery is a huge step towards self reliance for the people of the Al Anbar province," said Navy Lt. Eric I. Palmer, 35, the officer in charge with Detachment 1, Civil Affairs Team 6, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5.

Operating at maximum efficiency, the refinery will be able to process 16,000 barrels of oil per day. The refinery will also employ more than 1,500 workers.

“The ability to get the crude oil from up north, bring it down here, refine it and then have the distribution system that will take it through Al Anbar (province) is absolutely a critical piece to keeping the Al Anbar economy moving forward,” said Brig. Gen. Martin Post, deputy commanding general, Multi-National Force – West.

Making the refinery operational was not an easy process, but members of CA Team 6 aided the Iraqis as they helped them repair the refinery. 

“The Iraqis had no ability to bring crude here because the pipelines had been destroyed by people stealing oil to sell on the black market,” said Palmer.  “We came up with a plan to offload the crude oil from trains instead of depending on the broken pipeline.”

There were other repairs needed before the refinery could operate properly.

“We did a joint project with the local government to buy the oil pumps and generators for the off-loading dock for the train,” said Palmer.  “We also helped them renovate the truck-loading rack where trucks come in to ship the refined product out.”

There was also a new road built so drivers could come in from Ramadi and Haditha to fill their trucks.

The products the refinery will generate will range from benzine, which they will send to Ramadi to be mixed with higher-grade benzine, to heavy fuel oil, which is used to run factories for cement, gypsum, asphalt and eventually the Tahadi power station.

The power station is a future product that will alleviate all the electricity problems within the Al Anbar province, said Palmer. 

The people have already felt the effects of having an operational refinery.  The refinery has eliminated the issues people were having with lack of kerosene, which is essential for them because they use it for cooking.

“This is a very happy day for us because we have reopened the refinery,” said Salah Ismail Ibrahim, a manager at the K3 Oil Refinery.  “Life is starting to become normal again.”

After overseeing the rebuilding of the refinery, Coalition forces are stepping back to let the provincial government run things.

“We are pulling back to basically an overwatch position,” said Palmer, who is from Silverthorne, Colo. “We will advise them on how to make sure the fuel is getting distributed properly, but the overall control will be handled by the government.”

“It has taken a lot of cooperation from the Iraqis to make the refinery operational,” said Palmer. “Once we started helping the Iraqis out, they were happy to come back to work because it gave them a purpose and a role in rebuilding their country.”