* Southern exports average 2.6 million bpd so far in May
* Northern Kirkuk export halt limits overall Iraqi supply
* Repairs underway on Kirkuk, traders cautious re restart
By Alex Lawler
LONDON, May 27 Oil exports from Iraq's southern
terminals are on track for a record high in May, according to
loading data and industry sources, reflecting its efforts to
accelerate supply growth in 2014 after a slowdown last year.
But shipments of Kirkuk crude from northern Iraq have stayed
offline since a bomb blast halted the oil flow along the
pipeline on March 2, industry sources said, keeping total Iraqi
exports below their potential.
Exports from Iraq's southern terminals have averaged 2.60
million barrels per day (bpd) in the first 27 days of May,
according to shipping data tracked by Reuters. Two industry
sources, who also monitor the exports, had a similar estimate.
If that is sustained for the rest of May, southern exports
this month would top April's level of 2.51 million bpd, the
highest since 2003.
Repairs are underway on the northern pipeline, a step
towards boosting exports even higher, but traders do not expect
a rapid return of Kirkuk to the market.
"I am a bit cautious," a trader of Iraqi crude said,
referring to Kirkuk. "It does not look like things are going
Iraq has expanded its southern export capacity, easing
bottlenecks that had kept a lid on shipments, and is aiming to
lift exports to 3.4 million bpd in 2014, including 400,000 bpd
from the autonomous Kurdish region.
Helping lift southern output, Russia's Lukoil
started commercial production from a new oilfield, West Qurna-2,
in March. Its output is eventually expected to reach 1.2 million
bpd, 10 times higher than the initial rate.
Without exports from northern Kirkuk fields via pipeline to
Turkey, however, Iraq's overall shipments are still set to be
below February's rate of 2.8 million bpd, which Deputy Prime
Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani had described as a
There are signs that northern flows may resume in the next
An Iraqi oil official said last week that engineers had
reached some damaged sections of the northern pipeline, which
was attacked by an al Qaeda-offshoot cell and that repairs could
be finished in 10 to 15 days from May 20 if all went well.
Kurdistan last week started loading oil from its new
pipeline for shipment from Ceyhan, defying the central
government. The first shipment of 1 million barrels may go to
Italy or Germany, Turkey's energy minister said.
(editing by Jane Baird)