Iraq to boost southern oil storage to 8.5 mln bbls by end-2013

BAGHDAD, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Iraq plans to increase its

southern oil storage capacity to 8.5 million barrels by the end

of 2013, to help cope with export bottlenecks caused by bad

weather or technical problems, a senior Iraqi oil official said

on Monday.

Speaking at the opening of four new oil storage tanks near

the southern city of Basra, the head of the state-run South Oil

Company said the new facility will add a capacity of one million

barrels to existing 5.5 million barrels available.

"Today we have managed to add one million barrels and boost

oil storage capacity up to 6.5 million barrels. Another two

million barrels capacity will be added by end of 2103," Dhiya

Jaffar told Reuters.

Jaffar said the storage capacity increase will help Iraq to

pump crude to export terminals at the Gulf for a period of more

than a week to avoid export halts during rough weather or any

other unexpected glitches at the southern oilfields.

"Shutting down production because of weather has negative

impact on oilfields operations, and is a source of tension with

foreign oil firms. More storage capacity means less of these

problems," Jaffar said.

Export infrastructure, rather than production, is the main

hurdle to the OPEC-member keeping exports steady.

Iraq's oil exports fell to 2.34 million barrels per day

(bpd) in December from 2.62 million bpd in November due to rough

weather and technical problems with a single point mooring

terminal in the Gulf.

(Reporting by Aref Mohammed; writing by Ahmed Rasheed; editing

by James Jukwey)

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