Iraq's SOC seeks bids for southern Iraq export facilities

Iraq’s state-owned South Oil Co. (SOC), aiming to boost the country’s export capacity, invited international contractors to submit expressions of interest by May 5 for an offshore crude oil export facility reconstruction project at the port of Basra on the Persian Gulf.

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, May 4 -- Iraq’s state-owned South Oil Co. (SOC), aiming to boost the country’s export capacity, invited international contractors to submit expressions of interest by May 5 for an offshore crude oil export facility reconstruction project at the port of Basra on the Persian Gulf.

“This is part of an extensive plan to raise the export capacity from Basra ports to more than 4 million b/d in 4 years, up from 1.8 million b/d now,” said an SOC spokesperson. The project is to be financed by a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The upgrade is to include construction of a 10-km, 48-in. onshore pipeline; a 60-km, 48-in. offshore pipeline; and installation of valve stations at the Basra and Khor al-Amaya oil terminals.

The project also includes installation of a single-point mooring buoy with a pipeline end manifold near the Basra terminal, as well as construction of tie-in branch pipelines, composite cables, and auxiliary facilities.

Analyst BMI expects this most recent tender announcement “will be the first of many as the country seeks to repair, upgrade, and expand its export infrastructure.”

The announcement coincided with reports that oil exports from the Basra terminal fell to 960,000 b/d on Apr. 27 from 1.512 million b/d on Apr. 26, due to low quantities of crude in storage.

A shipping source said the volume of crude in the main storage tanks decreased due to problems in the pumping process but did not elaborate.

The decline followed an earlier report that, due to a combination of sabotage and bad weather, Iraq's crude exports for the first 25 days of April stood at 1.7 million b/d, compared with 1.84 million b/d in March.

"We have had several power cuts and bad weather in the southern oil ports, and that has reduced our normal exports," said one Iraqi official.

In the north, Iraq’s oil exports for Apr. 1-25 averaged 300,000 b/d after saboteurs destroyed part of the northern export pipeline and created a 4-day stoppage in the flow of oil, normally around 450,000 b/d, from the Kirkuk oil fields to the Turkish export terminal in Ceyhan (OGJ Online, Apr. 23, 2010).

However, on Apr. 26, Iraq's Oil Ministry said it resumed crude exports through Ceyhan after repairing the key northern pipeline. A spokesman said the damage was repaired in "record time" and that oil would be pumped at full pressure to make up for the 4-day interruption in service.

Meanwhile, as part of the effort to improve Iraqi oil exports, two naval tugs left Malaysia heading for Basra, according to Anmar al-Safi, a spokesman for State Co. for Iraqi Ports.

Al-Safi said the ship carrying the two tugs—called al-Fayhaa and al-Eishar—is due in Basra in early May. The two tugs, described as the largest ever to work in Iraq, will be used to facilitate the country’s oil export process.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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