The US government has agreed to provide technical support to Iraq to help secure its critical oil infrastructure, as the country ramps up its production and export capacity.

The agreement marks a new area of cooperation since US troops left Iraq at the end of 2011.

Officials from the US Department of Energy and State will work with the Gulf country to “develop approaches to protect Iraq’s energy infrastructure from terrorist attacks or natural disasters”, said the joint energy committee in a statement made after talks in Baghdad, AFP news agency reported.

The cooperation would focus on studies and new equipment, particularly on the oil pipelines in the north of Iraq, which have been the subject of numerous attacks and sabotage.

The latest example came on 5 February, when a bomb exploded at a refined-products pipeline running from the Baiji refinery to Baghdad. No casualties were reported but the pipeline was taken out of action.