Hormuz move may hit Iraq exports
Baghdad, February 21, 2012
Iraq could lose more than half of its oil-exporting capability if neighbouring Iran shuts the vital Strait of Hormuz shipping lane, Iraq's planning minister said, adding no immediate alternatives would make up the shortfall.
Of the average 2.165 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) Iraq exported last year, about 1.7m bpd went through Basra export terminals to the Gulf via Hormuz.
'What worries us is the closure of Hormuz because it means Iraq will lose more than half of its oil exporting capabilities,' Ali Al Shukri said. 'We are trying to look for alternatives to export Iraqi oil.' Opec member Iraq has the world's fourth-largest oil reserves.
Iran is embroiled in a long-running dispute with the West over its nuclear programme and has repeatedly threatened it could close Hormuz if sanctions succeed in preventing it from exporting crude, a move Washington says it will not tolerate.
The European Union last month enraged Tehran, the world's fifth largest oil exporter, when it decided to impose a boycott on its oil from July 1.
The sanctions are a delicate issue for Baghdad, which has strong political ties with Iran and Syria, where President Bashar Al Assad is also facing international sanctions for violence in unrest against his rule.
Shukri said Iraq could rely on exporting more crude by trucks and could increase the capacity of its northern pipeline which transfers oil from the northern oilfields to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan to 1m bpd from a current 400,000 bpd. But, these two hasty solutions will not meet our exporting abilities,' he added.-