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Iraq reconfigures Gulf terminal to boost exports of Basrah Medium crude: sources

Highlights

SOMO now can export up to 1.8 mil b/d Basrah Medium

Grade has become Iraq's most popular, especially in Asia

Rising OPEC+ quota will enable Iraq to ship more crude

Iraq has converted nearly half of its export capacity at its southern terminal on the Gulf coast to load its Basrah Medium crude, sources at the country's State Oil Marketing Organization and Basrah Oil Company said, enabling the country to boost shipments of the increasingly popular grade.

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Iraq is now able to load up to nearly 1.8 million b/d of Basrah Medium from its fixed jetties at the Al-Basrah Oil Terminal, shifting exports of Basrah Light to four single point moorings along with Basrah Heavy.

SOMO exported 1.1 million b/d of the grade in August, according to official data, and is eying a significant increase in loadings, particularly as Iraq's production quota under the OPEC+ supply accord continues to rise.

SOMO introduced the Basrah Medium grade in January to address quality issues with the country's biggest crude stream, Basrah Light, arising from heavier Meessan, Halfaya and Weest Qurna II crude fields coming online. The move essentially cut in half the volume of crude marketed as Basrah Light.

Basrah Medium is now SOMO's most popular export grade, especially in Asia, outpacing shipments of Basrah Light and Basrah Heavy, Deputy Director General Ali al-Shatari told S&P Global Platts on Sept. 1.

Nearly 80% of the Basrah Medium exports are shipped to Asia, with China taking more than half and India as much as a quarter, he added.

"Demand [for Basrah Medium] is increasing in terms of variety of customers in Europe, but the demand is increasing in terms of variety and quantity in Asia," Shatari said.

The grade has a specific gravity of around 27.9 API with a sulfur content of 3%, making it very similar in quality to Saudi Arabia's Arab Heavy, which has a gravity of 27.8 API and 2.75% sulfur.

Work on converting the fixed jetties started Aug. 28, according to a terminal status report seen by Platts.