Israel, Jordan to talk on Iraq pipeline

By Reuters

TEL AVIV - Israel and Jordan will hold meetings about the possibility of restarting an oil pipeline from Iraq to Israel via Jordan that was closed 55 years ago, a National Infrastructure Ministry source said on Wednesday.

The source said that minister Yosef Paritzky (Shinui) will meet Jordanian officials about restarting the pipeline, which sent Iraqi oil from Mosul to the northern Israeli port of Haifa during the British mandate period, on the assumption a pro-Western government will be set up following the U.S.-led war.

"Jordan contacted the prime minister's office who asked the minister (Paritzky) to meet with the Jordanian officials," the source told Reuters. "We know the section of the pipeline here is in excellent condition but we want to know what the Jordanian part is like and whether it can be restarted easily."

The source said Paritzky believes restarting the pipeline could reduce Israel's fuel costs by 25 percent and turn Haifa into "the Rotterdam of the Middle East."

The flow of Iraqi oil to Haifa stopped in 1948 with the end of the British mandate and the War of Independence that followed and the establishment of Israel, the source said.

"It's too soon to estimate the chances of the pipeline restarting or its financial impact for Israel although it would obviously be substantial," the source said. "It depends on what kind of government takes office in Iraq.

"The Jordanians are optimistic though and the minister is very keen to try and flesh out a plan for restarting the oil flow," the source said.