(Adds refinery unit)
By Aref Mohammed
BASRA, Iraq, March 1 Oil exports from Iraq rose
to a record 2.8 million barrels per day (bpd) on average in
February, Deputy Prime Minister for energy Hussain
al-Shahristani told reporters on Saturday.
The increase is likely to restore some confidence in Iraq's
oil revival, which slowed last year due to technical and
security problems, as well as an ongoing resource row between
Baghdad and the country's autonomous Kurdish north.
A sustainable rise could weigh on global oil prices.
The February figure was up from 2.228 million bpd the
previous month thanks to the completion of work on expanding the
capacity of the southern Basra port, from which the bulk of
Iraq's crude is shipped.
"These projects which we carried out relating to development
and production have enabled Iraq to produce 3.5 million barrels
per day and to export 2.8 million barrels per day, which is an
historic figure," Shahristani told reporters at the Basra
refinery during a ceremony for the opening of new units.
One of the new units will increase Basra refinery's capacity
by 70,000 bpd to 210,000 bpd.
Iraq set an export target of 3.4 million bpd for 2014,
including 400,000 bpd from the autonomous Kurdistan region,
implying production of 4 million bpd, including oil used
Production in February reached 3.5 million bpd, and
Shahristani blamed the shortfall on the Kurds, who are at odds
with the Iraqi central government over oil rights and stopped
exporting via the national network more than a year ago.
Since then, they have been exporting smaller quantities on
their own terms by truck, whilst building a separate pipeline to
Turkey, infuriating Baghdad, which claims sole authority to
manage all Iraqi oil.
Current Kurdish production capacity stands below 400,000
bpd, and around one third of that is refined locally.
Of the 2.8 million bpd exported in February, 2.5 million
came from Basra, Shahristani said. The rest was exported from
the northern Kirkuk oilfields via a pipeline to Turkey that has
repeatedly been sabotaged.
Iraq also used to export between 10,000-12,000 bpd of crude
by truck across the border to Jordan, but conflict in the
western province of Anbar put a halt to that this year.
(Reporting by Aref Mohammed and Suadad al-Salhy; Writing by
Isabel Coles, editing by David Evans and Toby Chopra)