Iraq's Southern Oil Exports at Record Rates in April

Source: The Wall Street Journal 4/23/2012, Location: Middle East

Iraq's crude exports from its southern oil terminals have jumped to record rates in April and these are expected to be sustained for the rest of the year thanks to the operation of two new floating terminals. Exports from the country's southern export terminals have surged by around 40,000 barrels a day so far in April, to 1.95 million barrels a day, the official told Dow Jones Newswires. Iraq said its southern exports averaged 1.91 million barrels a day in March.

"The average exports from the south in April is expected to increase beyond the 1.95 million barrels a day [level]," the official said.

Iraq's total crude oil exports in March jumped by 15% to 2.317 million barrels a day, a record high since the U.S.-led war in 2003, due to a new Single-Point Mooring, or SPM, facility.

Iraq expects its April exports from the south to remain at or climb to slightly above the levels of March as it has started operations at a second SPM. Each can handle up to 900,000 barrels a day.

Another senior oil ministry official expects exports overall to climb in April towards 2.4 million barrels a day, including some 400,000 barrels a day of crude from the northern Kirkuk field, and see that level increasing gradually to reach between 2.5 million and 2.6 million barrels a day later this year.

Iraq started loading from the second SPM Friday when a 2-million-barrel vessel began loading.

"The vessel is expected to finish loading tomorrow," the official said.

He said that the first SPM, which started loading last month, will resume loading Tuesday as the floating terminal was closed for two days for maintenance.

The two operating SPMs, built by a subsidiary of Australia's Leighton Holding Ltd., two of five SPMs the country is building in the Gulf, will eventually bring Iraq's total exports capacity from southern terminals to around 3.5 million barrels a day, officials said.


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