Iraq to boost oil export capacity
Tokyo, January 25, 2011
Iraq plans to raise the capacity of its southern oil export facilities in the Gulf to between 5 and 6 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of 2013, deputy oil minister Ahmed al-Shamma said on Tuesday.
The move comes as part of the Opec member's plan to boost its crude output.
The projects, which are divided into two stages, involve the installation of new pipelines and single point moorings (SPMs) and are partly funded by a Japanese government loan, he said.
Iraq exports the bulk of the oil from its southern fields around the city of Basra, which now averages more than 1.5 million bpd.
'We have a plan also to rehabilitate our northern system to its original capacity of 1.6 million barrels per day,' al-Shamma told reporters during a visit to Tokyo.
Oil from the Kirkuk fields in the northern region currently provides another 400,000 bpd or so in exports.
Al-Shamma also said there is a chance Iraq may hold one-on-one negotiations with a Japanese consortium led by JX Holdings to develop the giant Nassiriya oilfield, adding that a formal decision would depend on the policy of the new government approved last month.
The comments came after Iraq's deputy prime minister for energy affairs, Hussain al-Shahristani, said earlier this month that Iraq plans to invite international oil companies to develop the Nassiriya in a bidding round later this year.
Iraq said last year it would develop Nassiriya on its own after months of talks with a Japanese group made up of JX Holdings, Inpex Corp and JGC Corp ended in failure over financing issues.
'Japanese companies have a good chance because they have done a lot of work on it,' he said. 'They have better knowledge of the field, of its capability, they could make a better offer than any other company.'
Iraq has not made a decision on whether to develop Nassiriya and build a 300,000 bpd refinery there in one package, but the idea has been gaining traction within the oil ministry, he said.
Largely undeveloped,Nassiriya is listed as having reserves of under 5 billion barrels.
Iraq signed a series of deals with foreign oil companies to develop its vast oilfields in a bid to boost its production capacity to 12 million bpd in six to seven years, from around 2.7 million bpd now.-Reuters
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