Iraq boosts output capacity at Kirkuk oil refinery

BAGHDAD (Reuters) ó Iraq's Oil Ministry has added a new processing unit to the Kirkuk oil refinery, increasing the plantís capacity to 56,000 bpd, the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

The new production unit can process 13,000 bpd of crude, the statement said, citing Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi.

The new upgraded production capacity will meet most of the domestic need of the northern oil city of Kirkuk and nearby provinces and "save hard currency as a result of cutting fuel imports," it said.

Iraq is working to divert most future output from Kirkuk oilfield to local refineries due to an ongoing conflict with Kurdish regional authorities over the use of an export pipeline to Turkey.

Production from Kirkuk stopped in mid-October after Iraqi forces dislodged Kurdish fighters and took over the northern regionís oilfields.

Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; editing by Jason Neely