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Bad Weather Still Slowing Iraq Basra Oil Exports

Source: Reuters 6/4/2012, Location: Middle East

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Oil exports from Iraq's southern Basra terminals were still disrupted by a dust storm, with shipments cut to 1.41 million barrels per day (bpd) from 1.65 million bpd the previous day, a shipping source said.

"A dust storm is making visibility difficult for ships to reach the ports on Monday and preventing those who are berthed from leaving," the shipper said.

Bad weather has disrupted oil exports from Iraq's southern offshore terminal and forced neighbouring Kuwait to halt all of its oil exports, a shipping source and government official said.

However Kuwait was able to resume its oil exports as a sandstorm lifted there, a spokesman for state-run Kuwait National Petroleum Co (KNPC) said.

Kuwait produced around 2.77 million barrels per day (bpd) in May, slightly up from 2.75 mln bpd in April, according to a recent Reuters survey.

Kuwait has three refineries -- Shuaiba, Mina Abdullah and Mina al-Ahmadi -- with a total refining capacity of around 930,000 bpd.

In Iraq, loading operations at a new floating export terminal have resumed with pumping around 480,000 barrels per day, the shipping source said.

"A ship was anchored at the single-point mooring, but high winds prevented it from loading. It started loading after winds died down," the shipper said.

Iraq exports the bulk of its crude from southern ports at the Gulf. Shipments of crude from the Kirkuk field in northern Iraq usually average 350,000-400,000 bpd and are expected to remain stable around that level.

Iraq exported an average 2.452 million bpd in May, including 2.086 million from Basra and 366,000 from northern fields.

Iraq's oil production has been held back for decades by infrastructure crippled by years of sanctions and war, including a lack of export capacity on its small strip of the Gulf coast.

Production from Iraq's southern oilfields is expected to hit around 2.75 million bpd by the end of this year and the OPEC producer is expected to be the world's biggest source of new oil supplies over the next few years.

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