Iraq denies technical fault in new oil terminal
Baghdad, March 22, 2012
Iraq said weather, rather than a technical fault, was behind an interruption in the operation of a new offshore oil terminal designed to ramp up its exports and that a second tanker was about to begin loading there.
The new single point mooring (SPM) terminal came online on March 8 and loaded a tanker with 2 million barrels of oil by March 13 but has not operated since.
Sources at the state-owned South Oil Company had blamed technical faults for the interruption.
Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi said, however, that weather was to blame, after storms hit the Gulf.
"As we speak, a second vessel is on its way to the SPM, with a capacity of 2 million barrels."
The new terminal is the first of four being built by Australia's Leighton Holdings with the aim to eventually more than double Iraq's exports by adding 3.4 million barrels per day of total additional capacity.
Iraq has sweeping plans to increase its oil production and exports, which have been held back by a lack of loading infrastructure in the Gulf.
The new terminal's initial operation was delayed for several weeks by poor weather. Iraqi officials say the second SPM terminal should be ready in April.
Iraq is also investigating whether there was any wrongdoing involved in Leighton's bid for the project after the firm told Australian police one of its subsidiaries may have been involved in bribery. Leighton is cooperating with investigators. – Reuters