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Iran cuts oil output in some areas to save flood-hit people

Iran has shut down some oilfields in Khuzestan province as intensive efforts are underway to control damage from flash floods and prevent possible environmental pollution, Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh says.

Zangeneh said Friday some oil pipes in the province have been emptied for the first time, and oil output has been reduced in some flood-hit areas as precaution. The minister stressed that oil production in the province has not stopped.

The oil minister, who is in Khuzestan to marshal the ministry’s equipment and forces to alleviate the situation in the flood-stricken areas, dismissed as a “big lie” certain rumors that Ministry of Petroleum has prevented the flow of water in areas where oil facilities are located.

“Government officials, the oil industry, and provincial executives have never sought to protect oil facilities at the expense of causing damage to people,” he said.

However, the minister noted, the ministry takes into account environmental issues and tries to prevent oil pollution in flood-hit areas, as it will cause further problems for the residents.

“Currently all oil wells in the West Karoun region are flooded or surrounded by water except for a protected area of hundreds of meters around the wells,” Zangeneh said.

Last weekend, head of Iran’s Petroleum Engineering and Development Company (PEDEC) Turaj Dehqani said floods had caused some minor problems to current operations in the joint fields with Iraq.

Governor General of Khuzestan Gholam-Reza Shariati confirmed the remarks, saying water drainage into Hawizeh Marshes known to locals as Hoor al-Azim wetland where some oil facilities are based had not been blocked.

All the five oilfields shared between Iran and Iraq are located near Hawizeh Marshes which straddles the border between the two countries

The wetland, which used to be so much dry that it burned in fire for several months last year, is now almost fully covered with water.

The provincial governor said the wetland is now so much flooded that one of the levees on the Iran-Iraq common border has broken, causing water to flow into the Iraqi side of Hawizeh.