Iraqi oil exports down for February, up over 2007

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Mar. 25 -- Iraq's oil ministry said the country's exports of crude dropped by nearly 6% in February, falling to 56.1 million bbl from the 59.6 million bbl exported in January.

The oil ministry, which gave no explanation for the lower figure, also said the country's average oil production for February was 2.43 million b/d, with total exports at 1.93 million b/d.

Of the exports, Iraq sent an average of 1.54 million b/d from its southern oil fields, while the remaining 393,000 b/d were exported from northern fields.

Despite the monthly drop, Iraq's exports continue to show an increase year-on-year.

Total oil exports in 2007 reached nearly 600 million bbl, or an average of 1.6 million b/d. Most of that was exported from Basra, while nearly 40 million bbl were exported from the north.

Overall, according to reports, Iraq's oil exports rose 9.2% in 2007, largely due to improved security, which enabled oil shipments through the pipeline from the Kirkuk oil fields to Turkey's Ceyhan terminal on the Mediterranean Sea.

Shipments on the northern pipeline often were halted in past years due to sabotage and technical hitches, but improvements have been made in both areas, leading to increased shipments.

On Mar. 24, shippers reported that Iraq has sent more than 400,000 b/d of Kirkuk oil through its northern pipeline to Ceyhan during the preceding week, a flow that has been sustained for the 7-day period without interruption.

Stocks stored at Ceyhan stood at 2.7 million bbl on Mar. 24, while the rate of flow through the pipeline came to some 18,000 bbl/hr.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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