Iraqi production surged last year by some 300,000 b/d compared to 2011, despite well-publicized delays on projects and a cut-off in Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) contributions to northern exports. But a combination of lower southern exports and the Kurdish spat pulled Iraqi production down below the 3mn b/d mark for the second straight month in January.

Infrastructure bottlenecks challenge southern expansion. But low Basra loadings of the last two months should be just a blip. While in December mechanical issues with new offshore Single Point Mooring (SPM) buoys were responsible for southern export weakness, last month’s poor loadings performance was just a result of bad weather. Eight 2mn barrel cargoes loaded at the SPMs in January, double the previous month’s haul, according to MEES data. (CONTINUED - 664 WORDS)