Monday, June 25, 2007

Fallon Visits Bayji Oil Refinery

25 Jun 07
Sgt. Joshua R. Ford
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

BAYJI, Iraq - Adm. William Fallon, commander of U.S. Central Command, met with Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, 25th Infantry Division commander, and other Iraqi and coalition leaders, June 11, 2007, at the Bayji Oil Refinery to discuss the future of the refinery.

Fallon expressed his concern with getting the Bayji Oil Refinery running at its maximum potential, which included proposed methods for the protection of the oil pipelines that run to other cities and neighboring countries.

During the meeting, a representative from the Army Corps of Engineers introduced a $16 million plan to re-design traffic flow throughout the refinery, making tankers and fuel trucks less vulnerable to insurgents extorting resources.

The plan also includes surveillance and lighting equipment in heavy traffic areas to increase security in the refinery.

The discussions went beyond the Bayji Oil Refinery’s problems and shifted to fixing other refineries in Iraq to maximize fuel efficiency in other provinces throughout the country.

The refinery in Haditha seemed to be one of Fallon’s main concerns. He wanted to know what the Ministry of Oil and the Bayji Oil Refinery could do to help the Anbar province see some of the same positive changes that Salah ad Din has seen with the Bayji Oil Refinery.

Bayji Oil Refinery representatives said that money is not the primary issue when it comes to repairing some of the problems at the oil refineries in Iraq. Contracting is the issue. It is hard for the Ministry of Oil to find contractors who will work on the different problems each refinery is experiencing.

Since the paratroopers with 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, have been working with the Bayji Oil Refinery, they have seen decreased prices of black market fuel throughout Salah ad Din province, a gas station inspection plan that makes sure various gas stations are accounting for the fuel they receive, and better fuel availability to the local population.

“We’ve done some polling throughout the area, and people of Iraq are actually getting drastically increased amounts of fuel now compared to what they were getting, say, four or five months ago,” said Capt. Kwenton Kuhlman, overseer of the Bayji Oil Refinery and Company B commander, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.

“I think (Fallon) left with a positive assessment that those things (discussed) are possible and that we are working towards the way ahead on those issues,” said Kuhlman.

Photo - Adm. William Fallon, commander of U.S. Central Command, is greeted by Iraqi leaders, June 11, 2007, upon his arrival to the Bayji oil refinery in Bayji, Iraq.

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