I’m watching a report on cspan about the Shuaiba Refinery in Basra, Iraq. The report was filmed in January, 2006. 2 ½ years after the war began. The Iraqi engineers that were interviewed reported that the pipelines in the refinery works at 85-90% efficiency. 10-15% of the crude oil leaks out of the pipes. Replacement pipe sections have to be bought at the local market because foreign-made parts are not available. The natural gas processing equipment at Shuaiba doesn’t work, so all natural gas is burned off in great pyres. The cameraman wanted to evoke images of Kuwait ’92 by focusing in very close on the fires.
Natural Gas processing facilities wouldn’t help Iraq as much as you would think. Most Iraqis cook with Propane, which can’t be produced in the refineries. They didn’t mention where the propane comes from, just that it’s delivered in rusty and decrepit containers, and costs 5 times what it did before the war.
I walked away with the point that the film maker wanted me to. Things in Iraq can be pretty grim. Not to everyone all the time, but to enough people enough of the time. If my gas station was out 2 days a week, and my stove didn’t work 3 days a week, I’d be pretty mad, too.