NEWS | Feb. 11, 2008

More jobs available at brick factory

By Ray McNulty , MND-C PAO

Bricks are stacked in the kiln before being fired and glazed at the Brick Factory complex in Narhwan. (U.S. Army photo)
Bricks are stacked in the kiln before being fired and glazed at the Brick Factory complex in Narhwan. (U.S. Army photo)

BAGHDAD (Feb. 7. 2008) – A job boom is in the works at the Narhwan Brick Factory Complex.

A reported 3,500 new jobs are anticipated in the weeks ahead.

Thanks to the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, enough heavy fuel oil is now flowing to power kilns in more than 120 factories throughout the Narhwan industrial region.

The expansion is geared toward generating a total of 7,500 additional jobs. According to Coalition Forces commanders in the field, this growth will not only sustain families, it will eliminate the need for young men to look to al-Qaeda for status and income.

Bringing the Brick Factory Complex back on line will help rejuvenate the Narhwan regional economy, where brick factories have been a mainstay of the local economy for generations.

“The brick factories at Narhwan had been a major employer in the area until the war caused the Ministry of Oil to cut fuel allocations to a fraction of what is required to operate the factory kilns at the complex. Consequently, thousands were put out of work,” said Lt. Col. Bruce Baker, G9 economics section, 3rd Infantry Division.

Baker said as construction and renovation projects increase in Iraq, there is a higher demand for bricks.

“If the kilns can be made operational, nearly 7,500 can return to work,”

Baker said. Today, 2,500 work at the factory complex, approximately 20 percent of total capacity.

For expansion, the factory requires regularly available and reasonably priced HFO to power the brick kilns.

Col. Timothy Clapp, director of the energy fusion cell for Multi-National Forces - Iraq, is working with the oil production distribution company of the Ministry of Oil in Baghdad to allocate HFO in sufficient quantities to bring the factory complex to at least 80 percent capacity.

“Now successfully put back into operation, the Narhwan brick plant will employ over 7, 500 people, bringing unemployment down in the region,” said Lt. Col. Mark Sullivan, 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery regimental commander.

“More importantly, it will stabilize the region by bringing jobs into homes in desperate need of income.

“Before the war, the Narhwan brick factories employed 10,000 workers.

Most of those workers stayed in the area and are available for employment.

Three thousand additional workers could return to work at Narhwan as early as March 2008; 7,500 could be employed there by mid-year and more thereafter.

Those would be workers employed by private industry, not (by) the U.S. or the government of Iraq,” Sullivan said.

Facilitating a deal to obtain HFO enables brick companies to super-heat the kilns. The oil refineries are able to clear HFO and profit from the sale; the government of Iraq benefits from accelerated oil revenues and keeps the refineries running.

“No outlay of U.S. funds is required to accomplish full employment at the brick factories,” Sullivan said. “Progress in securing access to HFO resulted from a strategic assessment of the challenge and an effective facilitation among the parties involved that literally got the HFO flowing.”

A meeting was held among managers of the brick factories, oil refineries, Ministry of Oil and Coalition Forces representatives to discuss access to HFO and scheduled allotment terms Jan. 15.

The meeting concluded with an agreement the Narhwan Brick Factory Complex will now be allocated 11 truck loads of HFO (with total volume shipments of 36,000 liters per truck) daily.

“Brick by brick, the Narhwan economy is making a comeback that affects every home in the region. A job and money to support a household is a strong deterrent to al-Qaeda,” Baker said.