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Dust storm halts Kuwait oil exports

by Staff Writers
Kuwait City (AFP) April 13, 2011
OPEC member Kuwait on Wednesday halted oil exports as a "precautionary measure" after a blinding dust storm hit the desert Gulf state, a Kuwait Petroleum Corp spokesman said.

Oil exports from terminals, facilities to receive vessels and some maintenance works at oil refineries were "halted as a precautionary measure", Sheikh Talal Al-Sabah said in a KPC statement.

He added, however, the stoppage would not affect Kuwait's commitments to clients as exports would resume once the dust cleared.

The education ministry also suspended study at all schools and universities due to the dust storm caused by winds blowing at high speed and reducing visibility to less than 200 metres (yards).

Air traffic was partially affected with incoming flights diverted to neighbouring airports while departures operated normal services, the civil aviation department said, quoted by the KUNA state news agency.

Operations at the oil-rich emirate's three commercial ports were also suspended due to low visibility, the ports authority said.

Kuwait, OPEC's fifth-largest producer, pumps around 2.3 million barrels of crude oil daily through export facilities in the south of the country.

Last week, a similar dust storm also caused a suspension of oil exports and air traffic.

Kuwait has had little rainfall for the fourth winter in a row, making the desert sand loose and easily carried aloft by strong winds. Dust storms are rare in winter but common in summer when temperatures soar.

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