Iraq managed to boost its crude oil exports in May over the previous month despite the continued stoppage of its northern pipeline. The rise coincided with commissioning of a third Single Point Mooring berth at Basra and the start of production from the Badra oil field, the second upstream capacity increment of 2014. The latest Ministry of Oil data show that Iraq exported a total of 80.036mn barrels of oil or 2.582mn b/d from its southern ports last month, a marginal increase from 2.509mn b/d in April (see graph p20). Northern exports have been halted since 2 March because of pipeline sabotage, which has forced the curtailment of northern production from Kirkuk and other fields operated by the North Oil Company. The pipeline is being repaired and, barring any security incidents, should be operational by the end of the week. If northern exports resume to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, Iraq could potentially top its February record of 2.8mn b/d. Given the delay in repairing the pipeline and indications that work to expand storage capacity at the southern Fao terminal is running behind schedule, Iraq will likely miss its 3.4mn b/d export target for 2014. The latest official export figures imply production of 3.3mn b/d in May, steady on the previous month (see table).
Iraq has been able to maintain Gulf exports at current levels because of higher southern production and the expansion of loading capacity at its main Basra oil terminal, where a third offshore loading buoy, SPM3, became operational in recent days. Oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said loading from the new SPM began on 1 June. Each of the SPMs has a capacity to handle 800,000 b/d. Iraq plans to add a fourth SPM of equal capacity and a fifth one as spare. The latest addition, in theory, takes total loading capacity from Basra and Khor al-Amaya to 4.3mn b/d though infrastructure constraints and lack of sufficient storage at the Fao terminal in the northern Gulf mean that Iraq’s chances of boosting exports significantly beyond the February level are slim. Basra capacity currently stands at 1.6mn b/d and Khor al-Amaya at 300,000 b/d. (CONTINUED - 926 WORDS)