Three week wait to load crude at Basra

Adverse weather conditions and questions over oil quality, lead to long delays at Iraq's biggest port

30 tankers are currently waiting to load crude at Basra, including 20 VLCCs.
30 tankers are currently waiting to load crude at Basra, including 20 VLCCs.

Iraq’s port of Basra is facing serious delays due to adverse weather conditions and questions over oil quality, according to news site Reuters.

Over 30 tankers are reported to be waiting to enter Iraq’s biggest port, with wait times said to be up to 3 weeks.

Of the 30 tankers waiting to enter Basra, around 20 are said to be Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), with a combined capacity of around 50 million barrels.

Difficult weather conditions are being blamed for the delay, with strong winds and storms creating a backlog since mid-March.
"The bad weather (in February) has caused all these delays," Sadiq Jaafar, head of marine consultancy firm Sadiq Jaafar & Associates, told Reuters.

The delays could not have come at a worse time for Iraq, whose southern field exports had risen to 2.66mn barrels per day in the first 18 days of March, a dramatic increase from 2.29mn barrels per day in February.

Questions have also arisen over the quality of the oil being loaded. At least one recent cargo was "not useable because it wasn't the right grade," one broker told Reuters, although sources in Iraq denied this.

Basra's oil quality ranges from a heavy oil with an API gravity of 26 degrees to a medium type at 34 degrees. From May, Iraq will split its Basra oils into two distinct grades, to ensure greater specificity for its customers.

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