Iraq agrees Hormuz contingencies package
Oil ministry prompts plans to increase oil traffic north of Basra
Prompted by the oil ministry, Iraq’s parliament has with unusual speed moved to make contingencies for the continued export of its oil in the event that Iran closes or disrupts maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz.
In addition to boosting pipeline traffic to the north, the government will increase tanker shipments by road. The government is also pressing to complete new pipeline projects.
"The oil ministry suggested accelerating work to complete building the north strategic pipeline and connect it to the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline to export oil from Basra via Ceyhan port," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Reuters.
Impetus for the push to diversify export routes has come from a continuing standoff between Iran, the West and several of its neighbors over Iran’s nuclear program.
Iraq currently exports around 80% of its oil through the Strait, a proportion which was set to increase as offshore tanker terminals in the south dramatically increase the country’s export capacity. Over 2 million barrels of oil per day was exported in February nationally, the most for 30 years.
The country also exports oil north via the Ceyhan pipeline to Turkey, which also acts as the main gateway for oil from the Kurdish region to make its way to international markets. The pipeline currently carries 375,000 bpd of crude, and has been prone to disruptions due to the age and poor condition of the line, and disputes between Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government in Erbil.
According to Reuters, the government is also pressing westward, with a 680 km pipeline able to transport 1 million bpd of crude from southern oilfields around Basra to a main pumping station in Haditha in the west. The pipeline is less than a third finished.
Iraq also hopes to revivify old pipelines that connect to Saudi Arabia and Syria, in order to access the Mediterranean and Red Seas respectively.