Iraq is laying the groundwork for an increase in crude exports with the expansion of southern storage. Further work will allow for segregated Basrah Light and Heavy crude streams.Iraq’s southern oil storage capacity has risen above 10.5mn barrels with the addition of three new storage tanks with total capacity of 1mn barrels, the oil ministry says. The tanks are located at the Rumaila and Tuba tank farms and should help to alleviate some of the bottlenecks that have forced production shutdowns and loading delays at southern terminals in recent months.

Oil Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad says that Iraq plans to boost storage capacity to more than 15mn barrels by the end of the year, in order to increase its export capacity. Iraq exported 2.94mn b/d of crude oil in December, a post-1979 record, but was unable to sustain that high level because of a lack of storage and sufficient pipeline capacity to accommodate the rapid rise in production from the main southern fields, including the super-giant Rumaila oil field. Rumaila, being developed by a consortium led by BP, has capacity to produce 1.4mn b/d, but is often shut down when there is a backlog in loadings from the Basra and Khor al-’Amaya terminals. (CONTINUED - 711 WORDS)