Iraq mulls building an island to boost oil exporting capacity

Opec’s second-biggest producer is ramping up efforts to expand capacity to pump and export oil, with plans that include the injection of seawater into crude deposits and the construction of export facilities on a man-made island in the Gulf. Iraq is seeking bids from six companies for an estimated $4bn project to inject seawater into its southern oil fields to dislodge more crude from the deposits, Ihsan Abdul Jabbar, the director-general of state-run Basra Oil Co, said in an interview. The country has already received bids from five companies interested in building a processing facility to double output at the Majnoon field to 450,000 barrels a day, he said, without identifying the bidders.
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A view of West Qurna oilfield is seen in Basra, southeast of Baghdad (file). Iraq is ramping up efforts to expand capacity to pump and export oil, with plans that include the injection of seawater into crude deposits and the construction of export facilities on a man-made island.

Iraq is also studying a proposal with a Dutch company to build a 10mn-barrel storage facility and an oil-exporting terminal with a capacity of 2mn barrels a day – all on an artificial island off the country’s Gulf coast, Abdul Jabbar said in Basra. “Let’s say we have rough weather. The tankers will be taken to a safe zone, and when the rough weather ends, we will have many vessels and not all will be able to come for loading as the waiting area will be busy,” he said. “But if we have more than one terminal, once the rough weather ends, they all can come to get crude loaded.”

Iraq has sought to boost oil sales from its southern region, which includes giant fields such as Majnoon and Rumaila, to offset a loss in production in the north where a dispute with the semi-autonomous Kurdish region has crippled pipeline exports through Turkey. Iraq pumped 4.43mn barrels a day in February, second only to Saudi Arabia in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It sees output capacity at 5mn barrels a day by the end of next year, even as it commits to capping production under a global oil-cuts deal. State-run Basra Oil targets an increase in production to 3.5mn barrels a day by the end of the year from 3.15mn currently, Abdul Jabbar said. It plans to pump 4.5mn barrels a day by the end of 2022, with gains at all fields in Basra province, he said.

Oil producers pump water into oil fields to enhance crude recovery. Initial bids for Iraq’s seawater-injection project are due by April 15, and the government expects to award the work before June, Abdul Jabbar said. Iraq is talking with Exxon Mobil Corp and PetroChina Co about aspects of the project, Abdul Mahdy Al-Ameedi, the Oil Ministry’s director-general for upstream oil contracts, said last month in Berlin. The country plans separately to increase output at the southern deposit of West Qurna-1 to 480,000 barrels a day by December from 450,000 barrels a day, Hassan Mohammed Hassan, head of the field’s joint management committee, said.

 

Sources and photo-credits: Bloomberg, Gulf Times