Iraq’s oil ministry has authorized the establishment of a $5b oil refinery project in Kurdistan’s Kirkuk.

The ministry’s Spokesman, Asim Jihad, told Rudaw Media Network that “the oil ministry has given approval for a new refinery to be built in Kirkuk,” adding that “the project will be implemented in the future.”

Additionally, Rebwar Taha, from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party, stated that the project will be carried out in phases and could take between 3 and 5 years to reach completion, reported Oil Price News.

The Iraqi decision to build a huge refinery in Kirkuk comes after the Black Force of PUK seized control of the North Oil Company in the city of Kirkuk in early March, stopping the oil export for several hours before it resumed.

The existing refinery in Kirkuk is 65 years old and refines just 30,000b/d, which cannot meet Kirkuk’s demand. Accordingly, Iraq “asked for the refinery’s production rate to be increased to 70,000b/d so that oil from Kirkuk is no longer taken elsewhere under the pretext of refining it,” explained Taha.