A small-scale oil refinery in Sulaimani province. Photo: Rudaw video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Public health and environmental concerns have motivated the Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Natural Resources to order a crackdown on illegal oil refineries.
The supreme gas and oil council of the Kurdistan Region decided to shut down all illegal refineries in the Region within the next 60 days follow complaints from citizens living near these facilities.
A high committee headed by the Ministry of Interior and comprised of the Ministry of Trade, the Environmental Commission, and other administrations has been formed.
The clampdown begins next week.
“This decision is the right decision. There is great care given to protecting the environment and people’s well-being,” Diyar Shiekh Gharib, director of Sulaimani’s Environmental Commission, told Rudaw.
There are roughly 200 illegal refineries in the Kurdistan Region. Forty of them are located in Sulaimani province. They are situated mostly in Tanjaro, to the east of Sulaimani city. They refine different fossil fuels from crude oil mostly for export.
“We as the provincial council in Sulaimani have sent letters to the administrations arguing that a provincial council member needs to be on the committee as a monitor to be sure of its seriousness and to make sure there aren’t obstructions,” Rekawt Zaki, deputy head of the provincial council’s committee on fuel, told Rudaw.
Illegal refineries have damaged the environment and the quality of fuel, Zaki added.
“I have compiled 120 signatures in villages and country retreats and I have taken them to the Sulaimani provincial council,” Abubakr Rashid, a resident of an area affected by an illegal refinery, told Rudaw.
Rashid delivered his petition in September 2015. Action is only now being taken.
“People have asthma. They are ill. There are houses over there that have three to four cases of asthma. They have put their houses up for sale. They would like to sell it and run away from this smell,” Jabbar Aziz, another resident, told Rudaw.
The Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Natural resources has divided refineries into three categories: a small minority without problems, refineries that are yet to meet health and environmental conditions, and those that will be closed.