Oct. 30 (UPI) -- A new export terminal at the southern Iraqi port city of Basra adds another 900,000 barrels per day of capacity, the Iraqi oil ministry said.
Iraqi Oil Minister Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi said a fifth terminal at the Basra export facility could put the total capacity at the southern port at 4.6 million barrels per day. The minister said the new terminal adds flexibility to Iraq's export potential.
Capacity is not a reflection of total actual exports, though Luabi's comments on further development export options come as members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries deliberate on the fate of a multilateral effort to balance an oversupplied market with production cuts.
Iraq has been a reluctant party to the agreement credited with establishing a floor under crude oil prices that sank below $30 per barrel last year. The price for Brent crude oil was slightly above $60 per barrel in early Monday trading.
The Iraqi Oil Ministry last week said oil exports for September came in at 97.2 million barrels, or an average of 3.24 million barrels per day. Exports from Kirkuk were not included in September figures.
Iraqi forces in early October wrestled for control over oil fields in Kirkuk, a territory of dispute between the federal government and the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq. Crude oil from northern Iraq flows primarily by truck and through a pipeline from Kurdish territory to a Turkish sea port. A second pipeline from Iraqi territory in the north could be used once it's rehabilitated, and British energy BP suggested last week it was in broader talks with efforts in Kirkuk.
Iraqi oil exports from the southern ports peaked in December, one month before the implementation of the OPEC production agreement. Luaibi said during an early 2017 visit to the Basra port that rehabilitation operations for the infrastructure there were progressing in the right direction for Iraq. According to him, the overhauls would allow for an "unprecedented increase of oil production."
Analytical group Wood Mackenzie said Iraq is a low-cost producer that hosts some of the most capable energy countries in the world. In a May report, Ian Thom, the principal analyst for exploration and production in the Middle East and North African market, said "harsh technical service contract terms, and a myriad of technical, political and security factors, have all conspired to subdue growth," for Iraq