Iraq’s Oil Ministry has received bids from international engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies for a deal to build a backup crude oil export pipeline in the north of the country.

The pipeline will act as a standby line to the existing Iraq-Turkey pipeline, which has suffered repeated attacks and technical faults, shutting down production and reducing oil flows.

“A new export pipeline will provide flexibility to make oil flows continue if we have any issues with the old line,” said Oil Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad, according to Reuters news agency.

According to Jihad, nine EPC firms have submitted bids and a winner is expected to be chosen in September.

Contractors say the new pipeline will be 42 inches in diameter and cover about 280 kilometers, reconnecting with the existing link, although the connecting point has not yet been selected.

The existing northern export pipeline connects the Kirkuk field to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan in Turkey, and has been operational since the 1970s. The twin-pipeline was designed to transport 1.6 million barrels a day (b/d) of Kirkuk crude blends to Turkey, but damage to the IT2 pumping station during the US invasion in 2003 has meant that only one line is operable. Although this pipeline can transport up to 800,000 b/d, actual throughput is considerably less, averaging about 450,000 b/d. Previous plans to rehabilitate the pipeline have not progressed.