Iraq resumes crude exports from Basrah Oil Terminal after 24-hour halt
Iraq has resumed crude oil exports from Basrah Oil Terminal after an oil spill that occurred late Sept. 15 halted loadings from the facility, curbing some 1 million b/d of exports from OPEC’s second biggest producer.
State-owned Basrah Oil Co. has fixed issues that led to the oil spill and loadings and exports are back to normal levels after 24 hours of stoppage, the oil ministry said in a Sept. 17 statement.
In the coming days, BOC will compensate for lost crude exports by pumping extra volumes so that planned export levels are not impacted, the ministry added.
In a statement released Sept. 16, BOC said its “technical and engineering teams had dealt with a leak of crude oil in the surplus tanks system in the Basrah oil port, and pumping operations were gradually resumed.”
It said loadings from its single-point moorings that supplement the Basrah Oil Terminal had not been affected.
The terminal has long been a major risk for an oil spill, with the degrading of two aging sea lines feeding jetties. S&P Global Commodity Insights reported in July that bulges had appeared at the end of those lines, according to sources familiar with the matter, who said they feared a rupture that could cause a significant oil leak into the Gulf.
Reduced pumping rates
The issues had forced BOC to reduce the jetties’ pumping rates by more than 25%, to about 54,000 b/hour from previous levels of as high as 70,000 b/hour, according to daily terminal reports seen by S&P Global at the time.
The sea lines were laid in the late 1970s and have been due for replacement for decades, though the work has never been performed due to financing problems, political turmoil and other delays.
The sea lines are supplemented by four single-point moorings that have increased their flows to partially compensate for the jetties’ decline.
As of the end of August, Iraqi state oil marketer SOMO held 5.665 million barrels of crude in storage at its southern terminal, or some 66% of available space.
Current export capacity from Iraq’s southern terminals, including the Basrah Oil Terminal, is about 3.4 million b/d, according to the terminal reports.
In August, SOMO exported 2.108 million b/d of Basrah Medium and 1.142 million b/d of Basrah Heavy, according to official figures seen by S&P Global.