Iraqi oil exports ease to 1.5mbpd

LONDON - Iraqi crude oil shipments via its only operating export terminal slipped to 1.5 million barrels per day in December, 150,000 bpd short of the country's target, and could again fall below planned levels in January, shipping sources said yesterday.


Published: Thu 1 Jan 2004, 12:28 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 11:58 PM

Liftings were down from November's 1.57 million bpd due in part to poor weather conditions at the country's Mina al-Bakr terminal on the Gulf, which is already operating at near capacity, sources said.

"The 1.5 million bpd is satisfactory considering that weather usually remains rough in January," said one industry source.

Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO) had been aiming for 1.65 million bpd of exports in December rising to near 1.7 million bpd early next year.

At present, all Iraqi crude exports are shipped from the southern oil fields to the Basra terminal, located offshore the Fao Peninsula. The terminal was formerly known as Al Bakr after Iraq's 1968-1979 Baathist president.

Two oil tankers that were berthed on Wednesday were not expected to complete loading until Thursday, January 1. The total volume of supplies was estimated at 46.5 million barrels, about the same as November, which is a shorter month.

Four main stations in the south pump 75,000-85,000 barrels per hour of Basra light crude from the southern fields to the Basra terminal, an improvement on average rates of below 50,000 bph just a few months ago.

Iraqi officials have said they may also use two offshore berths at the nearby Khor al-Amaya terminal, which could boost capacity by some 400,00 bpd.

Sabotage has prevented starting the northern export pipeline from the Kirkuk fields to Ceyhan in Turkey, which carried 800,000 bpd before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum said earlier this month Iraq was targeting two million bpd of foreign oil sales by the end of the first quarter, including output from the Kirkuk oil fields in the north.

The minister said Iraq's northern pipeline network came under 85 sabotage attacks in the last four months but Iraq hopes to start the export pipeline by end of March. The oil export profile remained largely unchanged in December, with U.S. sailing up slightly at around 45 per cent of all exports, while Asian destinations were flat at around 35 per cent. European customers took slightly less at an estimated 13 per cent, market sources said.

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