Iraqi Pipeline in Saudi Arabia (IPSA)

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.

Iraqi Pipeline in Saudi Arabia (IPSA) was an oil pipeline in the Middle East.[1]


The pipeline runs from Basra, Iraq, to the Red Sea Port of Mu'ajiz, just north of Yanbu, Saudi Arabia.

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Project Details

  • Operator:
  • Current capacity: 1,650,000 barrels per day
  • Proposed capacity:
  • Length:
  • Status: Idle
  • Start Year: 1987


The Iraq Pipeline through Saudi Arabia (known as IPSA) travels through Saudi Arabia to the Red Sea Port of Mu'ajiz, just north of Yanbu. IPSA has suffered several closure as a result of wars and other political events and has been out of operation since the Gulf crisis.[2] IPSA has a design capacity of 1.65 million barrels per day (bpd).[3]


IPSA was laid in the 1980s in order to diversify export routes after oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war. However it has not carried Iraqi crude since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, causing relations between the two countries to deteriorate. Saudi Arabia confiscated the pipeline in 2001 as compensation for debts owed by Baghdad and from then until 2012 had only used the line to transport gas to power plants in the west of the country.[4]

According to former Iraqi Oil Minister Issam al-Chalabi, no attempts were made to recover the pipeline system following the 2003 invasion, and political relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia remained sour.[5]

In September 2003, unnamed official sources stated that Saudi Arabia had decided to reopen the IPSA pipeline to allow Iraqi oil to be exported from the country's southern oilfields to Yanbu.[6] However by October of the same year, a Saudi Aramco official stated that Iraqis "don't know what they are talking about... the pipeline is not in a usable form because of its long-term and sudden closure."[7]

In December 2011, after Iranian authorities threatened to close the Persian Gulf to international oil trade, consideration of alternative export routes to the Strait of Hormuz led to renewed discussion about the various oil pipelines that run across Saudi Arabia. The IPSA pipeline and the Trans-Arabian Pipeline (also known as Tapline) could carry the equivalent of up to 2 million bpd to ports on the Red Sea and Mediterranean coasts.[8] Nonetheless Iraq's security concerns, which include protection of threatened oil infrastructure and reserves, would also need to be considered before any decision to reopen the IPSA pipeline could be suggested as a viable option, according to reports by Reuters.[9]

In September 2017 it was reported that moves towards improved Saudi-Iraqi relations was raising the possibility of Iraq regaining access to the IPSA pipeline.[10]

Articles and resources


  1. Iraqi Pipeline in Saudi Arabia (IPSA), OpenOil, accessed September 2017
  2. "Energy Profile of Iraq", Encyclopedia of Earth, 3 July 2007.
  3. "Baker Institute paper suggests pipeline alternative to Hormuz oil route", Pipeline and Gas Journal, May 2012.
  4. Saudi Arabia reopens oil pipeline with Iraq to counter Iran Hormuz threat Al Arabiya, 29 June 2012.
  5. "Iraq’s Oil Export Outlets", Middle East Economic Survey, 30 November 2009.
  6. "Saudi to reopen Iraq pipeline" AME Info, 11 September 2003.
  7. "Iraq-Saudi oil pipelin is unusable" Gas And Oil website, 20 October 2003.
  8. "Circumventing the Strait of Hormuz' Bottleneck" Atlantic Sentinel, 20 December 2011.
  9. "FEATURE-Iraq oil security tested as U.S. forces withdraw" Reuters, 16 December 2011.
  10. "Iraq Hopes For IPSA Pipeline Access With Riyadh Rapprochement," Mees, Sep 1, 2017

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