* Southern oil exports fall to 1.67 mln bpd so far in Oct
* Export constraint seen easing in rest of the month
* Kirkuk shipments so far in Oct hold at Sept rate
By Alex Lawler
LONDON, Oct 16 Iraq could soon be back on track
to return as a top table oil exporter as infrastructure work,
that cut loadings and helped boost the oil price, progresses,
shipping data and industry sources showed.
The maintenance and expansion work is partly designed to
increase export capacity and help Iraq maintain its position as
the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of the
Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Along with disruptions in other producers such as Libya, it
tightened the market and helped support oil prices near $110 a
Exports from Iraq's southern terminals have averaged 1.67
million bpd in the first 16 days of October, according to
shipping data tracked by Reuters. That is down from September's
rate of 1.82 million bpd and 2.31 million bpd in August.
The loading rate is expected to increase in the rest of
October. Two of the berths at the Basra Oil Terminal, which were
closed in the early stages of the work, have begun to receive
tankers again, according to a shipping source.
"The average in October should be around 2 million barrels
per day if exports in the second half of the month are back to
normal," said a source with a buyer of Iraqi crude. "We shall
A source with a second buyer of Iraqi crude also expected to
see a rebound in the rest of the month, with exports averaging
2.0 to 2.1 million bpd during October.
That would be largely in line with Iraq's plan for the
constraint on exports to last for about a month from the middle
of September to the middle of October - although some in the
industry, such as the International Energy Agency, have pointed
to the potential for the reduction to persist as work continues.
Iraq exports the bulk of its oil from its southern ports.
Shipments of Kirkuk crude from northern Iraq remain far below
their potential, constrained by bomb attacks on the pipeline to
Turkey and a dispute with the Kurdistan Regional Government over
oil and land rights.
In September, Kirkuk shipments averaged about 250,000 bpd
and buyers of the crude expect October's rate to be around the
same, which would bring total exports to 2.25 million bpd or
Iraq's oil revival, which got under way in 2010, has slowed
this year due to infrastructure and security problems, keeping
output below 3 million bpd in July, although supply is expected
to start rising again later in the year.
(Additional reporting by Peg Mackey; Editing by William Hardy)