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Iraq's Basra Oil head says plans to hike crude output will require new pipelines

Istanbul — The head of Iraq's state-run Basra Oil Company, which currently produces 75% of the country's crude, said Tuesday the company plans to increase production to 5 million b/d in the next seven years, while three subsea export pipelines were also being negotiated or studied.

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"There is a target to develop Basra Oil Company production capacity from current 3.2 [million b/d] to reach 5 million b/d in 2025," BOC Director General Ihsan Ismaael told the CWC Basra conference in Istanbul on Tuesday.

Production would be sustained for at least 20 years after that, he added.

The majority of this capacity growth would be from fields that were contracted to international oil companies in two bidding rounds held in 2009. According to contracted production plateau targets set to be hit in the next 3-5 years, BP-operated Rumaila, ExxonMobil-operated West Qurna-1, Lukoil-operated West Qurna-2 and Eni-operated Zubair will raise output by a combined 1.8 million b/d.

These target levels may be drawn down slightly in future contract talks, IOC and ministry officials have said.

A handful of BOC-operated fields are also slated to increase output by a combined 700,000 b/d by 2024, Ismaael said.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the conference, he said three subsea export pipelines were being negotiated or studied that would add up to 3 million b/d of new export capacity by replacing the old pipelines currently connecting to the Khor al-Amaya and al-Basra oil terminals.

Al-Basra is currently operating at 1.7 million b/d, or just under half its nameplate capacity, due to the risk of pipeline rupture. Khor al-Amaya has been offline for most of the past two years because the pipeline leaks when pressurized high enough for loading at the 350,000 b/d terminal to be economical.

New pipelines and the completion of storage pumping work at the Fao terminal would also allow the four installed single point mooring buoys to reach their capacity of 900,000 b/d each, up from about half that now, and potentially add a fifth SPM.

"Basra now exports 3.6 million b/d," he said, adding: "The export capacity, currently designed, is 4.6 million b/d, but the operational export capacity is 4 million b/d."

Iraq has reached close to 4 million barrels on a handful of days in the past two years, but August exports of 3.583 million b/d were the highest ever monthly average.

--Staff, newsdesk@spglobal.com

--Edited by Wendy Wells, wendy.wells@spglobal.com