- TEL AVIV (Reuters) - 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."
- Haaretz reported on March 31 that Paritzky had requested
an assessment of the condition of the old pipeline from Mosul to Haifa,
with an eye toward renewing the flow of oil in the event of friendly post-war
regime in Iraq.
- Paritzky explained to Haaretz that resurrecting the pipeline
to Haifa could save Israel the high cost of shipping oil from Russia.
- The Infrastructure Ministry 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.