Iraq to Boost Oil Output This Year as Asian Demand Strengthens

By Khalid Al-Ansary & Kadhim Ajrash – Oct 23, 2013 11:21 AM CT

Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest oil producer, reiterated plans to boost crude output and exports by the end of the year as demand from Asian buyers strengthens.

Production will rise to 3.5 million barrels a day by the end of December and increase further in 2014, Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi told reporters in Baghdad today. Iraq’s output is about 3.3 million barrels a day, Deputy Prime Minister Hussain Al-Shahristani said a week ago.

China and India, Iraq’s two biggest customers, both requested additional supplies next year, Thamir Ghadhban, an adviser to Iraq’s prime minister, said in an interview in Baghdad today, without specifying how much more oil they sought. Japan asked for 300,000 barrels of crude a day and South Korea sought 250,000 barrels a day, he said.

China will import 900,000 million barrels a day to 1 million barrels a day of Iraqi crude next year while India will purchase about 400,0000 barrels a day, Shahristani said Oct. 16.

The government intends to raise crude output to 9 million barrels a day and export capacity to 7.5 million barrels a day by 2020, according to Ghadban. An additional 150,000 barrels a day of production will come from the West Qurna-2 field at the start of 2014, al-Luaibi said.

Exports dropped to 1.82 million barrels a day last month due to maintenance work, from 2.58 million barrels a day the previous month, according to the Oil Ministry.

Ceyhan Pipeline

Iraq needs to replace parts of a pipeline that takes its oil to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan in Turkey in order to increase export capacity to 1 million barrels a day, from 600,000 barrels a day to 650,000 barrels a day now, Luaibi said.

The country will sign contracts to construct new refineries in Karbala and Nasiriya by the end of the year, Luaibi said. Companies from Japan, South Korea, China and Europe are bidding to build the Karbala plant, which will have a capacity of 150,000 barrels a day, Fayyad al-Nima, deputy oil minister for refining affairs, said in an interview today.

Iraq’s refining capacity, excluding the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in the north, will increase to 700,000 barrels a day next year from a current 650,000 a day, al-Nima said. The Kurdish provinces have a refining capacity of 150,000 barrels a day, he said.

The government is in talks with Sonangol SA about giving the Angolan state-owned company a year or more to start operations at oilfields in Nineveh province in the north due to security challenges there, Luaibi said. Iraq signed a contract with Sonangol in 2010 to develop the Qaiyarah and Najma oilfields.

Iraq produced 3.3 million barrels a day last month, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Saudi Arabia, the largest supplier in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, had output of 10 million barrels a day.