BAGHDAD, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Iraq plans to increase its
southern oil storage capacity to 8.5 million barrels by the end
of 2013, to help cope with export bottlenecks caused by bad
weather or technical problems, a senior Iraqi oil official said
Speaking at the opening of four new oil storage tanks near
the southern city of Basra, the head of the state-run South Oil
Company said the new facility will add a capacity of one million
barrels to existing 5.5 million barrels available.
"Today we have managed to add one million barrels and boost
oil storage capacity up to 6.5 million barrels. Another two
million barrels capacity will be added by end of 2103," Dhiya
Jaffar told Reuters.
Jaffar said the storage capacity increase will help Iraq to
pump crude to export terminals at the Gulf for a period of more
than a week to avoid export halts during rough weather or any
other unexpected glitches at the southern oilfields.
"Shutting down production because of weather has negative
impact on oilfields operations, and is a source of tension with
foreign oil firms. More storage capacity means less of these
problems," Jaffar said.
Export infrastructure, rather than production, is the main
hurdle to the OPEC-member keeping exports steady.
Iraq's oil exports fell to 2.34 million barrels per day
(bpd) in December from 2.62 million bpd in November due to rough
weather and technical problems with a single point mooring
terminal in the Gulf.
(Reporting by Aref Mohammed; writing by Ahmed Rasheed; editing
by James Jukwey)