Iraq currently has a production capacity of 5 million barrels per day, and this capacity allows it to export more than 3 million barrels per day. Iraq is the second largest producer of crude oil in the Organization (OPEC) after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Oil represents 90% of its general budget revenues.
The Iraqi Ministry of Oil plans to increase the export capacity to 6 million barrels per day by the end of 2023. Therefore, it is undertaking several projects to develop huge oil tanks in Al-Faw district in Basra Governorate to raise their capacity from 3.5 million barrels per day to 6 million barrels per day, and also to expand export facilities in the ports of Al-Faw and Al-Zubayr, as well as to implement the marine pipeline project from the Faw tanks to the oil export ports. Iraq also seeks to open outlets for export from neighboring countries, especially the southern outlets overlooking the Arabian Gulf.
The port of Khor Al-Zubair is one of the largest Iraqi ports after Umm Qasr. The Iraqi Ports Company, which supervises the management of all ports, was able to convert Khor Al-Zubair port from a commercial port to be able to export and import oil derivatives primarily. The company also succeeded in converting 12 berths from Khor Al-Zubair port berths to oil docks, in conjunction with a major development campaign to construct new berths, in cooperation with the Oil Pipelines Company and the Iraqi Oil Marketing Company “SOMO”.
In general, the ports on the Shatt al-Arab suffer from technical problems that prevent the reception of tankers and large ships, due to the presence of a large amount of silt near land, which leads to limited depths in them and narrow sea lanes to which ships head when entering. The port of Khor Al-Zubair suffers from these problems that hinder it from exporting crude oil. Therefore, its work is limited to exporting and importing oil derivatives by small and medium ships.
As for the export of Iraqi crude oil, it takes place through ports with great depths, such as the port of Basra, as well as the floating platforms on the Gulf, from which Iraq exports most of its oil.
The Iraqi economy, like other economies of oil countries, was adversely affected by the drop in crude prices during the Corona pandemic crisis, and it also reduced its exports to comply with the production cuts set by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The Iraqi Oil Minister, Ihssan Abdul-Jabbar, affirms Iraq’s commitment to the OPEC agreement to support oil prices. This commitment is supported by the Iraqi officials as the interest of Iraq depends on increasing prices in the first place, and then on increasing export quantities in the second place.
Alaa al-Yasiri, Director General of the Iraqi Oil Marketing Company “SOMO”, says that after the decision to cut production in line with the decisions of the OPEC + group, Iraq’s exports amount to about 3 million barrels per day. The volume of revenues generated from exporting oil through the company for the year 2020 is about $ 42 billion, while the current January 2021 revenue amounted to more than $ 4 billion depending on a selling price of $ 49 per barrel. The price is subject to improvement despite the negative circumstances for the emergence of the new strain of Coronavirus.