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[casi] Iraq Reports Record Oil Exports

What on earth?  Where did this come from suddenly? pg

Iraq Reports Record Oil Exports
Last Updated: 12/5/2003 8:41:13 AM

Despite setbacks in rebuilding its shattered oil industry, Iraq boosted oil
production to 2.1 million barrels a day last month and exported record
volumes of crude from its terminal in the Gulf, Iraq's delegation to OPEC
said Thursday.

Iraq's output and exports have both grown at rates "exceeding earlier
expectations," the Iraqi Oil Ministry said in a communique issued after a
meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries at OPEC's
Vienna headquarters.

OPEC member Iraq hopes to maintain this momentum and increase its daily
production to an average of 2.3 million barrels in December and 2.8 million
barrels by next April. By comparison, Iraq pumped about 2.5 million barrels
a day on the eve of the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Iraq shipped 1.5 million barrels a day from its Basrah Terminal last month,
more than at any time since the terminal opened in the late 1980s, the
communique said. Although Iraq exported some 2.1 million barrels a day
before the war, that amount included crude from the country's northern oil
fields, which are currently shut off from a strategic export pipeline to
Turkey due to repeated sabotage.

Iraq aims to increase its exports to 1.7 million barrels a day by the end of
this year and 2 million barrels a day by April. The Basrah Terminal - known
formerly as Mina el-Bakr - was captured early in the war in good condition.
However, it has a maximum export capacity of about 1.5 million barrels a
day, and it was not immediately clear how the Iraqis expected to ship any
additional crude beyond that.

One option under consideration is an oil swap with neighboring Iran, in
which Iraq would transfer some of its crude overland to Iran, which would
then export the oil from an Iranian port. In exchange, Iraq would receive
refined Iranian oil products of comparable value. Such an arrangement might
require construction of a small, 6-mile pipeline from southern Iraq to Iran,
said George Beranek, an analyst with PFC Energy, a Washington consultancy.

Another option would be for Iraq to rebuild and expand its second Gulf
terminal, Khor al-Amaya, which was destroyed during the Gulf War of 1991 and
has only been partially repaired. Mohammed Al-Waely, operations manager of
Iraq's state-run South Oil Co., has described the facility as "a jungle of
pipes and burnt buildings in miserable condition." Although Khor al-Amaya
hasn't been used since Saddam's ouster, the ocean is often calmer there than
at the Basrah Terminal, making it easier for tankers to load oil.

In a pinch, Iraq could also export oil by truck to neighboring countries,
Beranek said.

Iraq's Oil Ministry said it has forged good relations with Saudi Arabia,
Qatar, Kuwait and Iran and hopes to interest them in the joint development,
investment and training it needs to further develop its oil resources. In
addition, it has made a priority of developing its oil fields and is
discussing "common acceptable grounds" with international oil companies, the
communique said.

The ministry said it plans to hold an oil conference in Baghdad in February
to help stimulate the interest of international firms.

Iraq's Oil Ministry recently called off a similar conference planned for
December due to concerns about the security of potential visitors. However,
the communique claimed that the security situation in Iraq has improved
"significantly" since then.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not
be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

WUSA 9 News

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