June 17, 2011 / 5:11 PM / 9 years ago

Iraq army defuse bombs at key oil refinery-sources

* Bombs found at Doura refinery south of Baghdad

* Latest threat to Iraq’s growing oil industry

BAGHDAD, June 17 (Reuters) - Iraqi troops have defused make-shift bombs placed inside one of the country’s key oil refineries in the latest threat to its expanding petroleum industry, security and oil sector sources said on Friday.

OPEC producer Iraq is rebuilding its oil industry after years of war and sanctions and energy installations are still targeted by insurgents more than eight years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. Four explosive devices were defused by the Iraqi army at Doura refinery south of Baghdad on Wednesday, a security official and an oil industry source said.

Several Iraqi oil police guards were arrested after the discovery, the sources said.

“An initial investigation indicates that someone within the refinery helped terrorists to get the bombs in,” an official close to investigation said, asking that he not be identified because it was a sensitive security matter.

Doura, which produces gasoline, gas oil, lubricants and other products, has a refining capacity of 240,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Violence in Iraq has fallen sharply since the height of the country’s sectarian fighting in 2006-2007, but bombings, killings and attacks by Sunni Islamist insurgents and Shi’ite militia still happen daily.

Iraqi officials say the local armed forces are ready to contain any internal threat when the last U.S. troops in the country leave in a planned withdrawal at year-end.

But they acknowledge gaps in their capabilities such as naval and air defences, and intelligence gathering.

Iraq’s oil police, set up to protect refineries and pipelines, say they are still underequipped and understaffed for the job.

A bomb attack against an oil storage depot set a storage tank ablaze earlier this month in a rare assault in the usually more stable southern oilfields.

In February, al-Qaeda militants attacked Iraq’s largest refinery in Baiji, killing four workers and detonating bombs and triggering a fire that shut down the operations for two days.. Security forces foiled another attack days later. (Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; writing by Patrick Markey)

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