- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 1, 2004

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iraq’s southern oil terminals are fully operational, with exports running at between 1.7 million and 1.9 million barrels a day, port agents and Iraqi oil officials said yesterday.

A port agent in the Persian Gulf, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that last week’s sabotage attacks on pipelines in southern Iraq did not appear to have affected exports.

The agent said that the terminals in the south were fully operational.

He said that between 70,000 barrels and 80,000 barrels an hour were being loaded from Iraq’s offshore Basra oil terminal, the equivalent of 1.7 million to 1.9 million barrels a day.

An Iraqi oil official in Baghdad, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the terminal was working at capacity.

South Korea’s SK Corp. reported no disruption in its loading plans. A very large crude-oil carrier with a capacity of 200 million barrels started loading Sunday at Basra port, was filled by Tuesday as scheduled and was leaving the port, said company spokesman Sohn Dong-ho.

Oil-futures prices rose yesterday. October contracts for light crude were up 48 cents to $42.60 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Last week’s persistent sabotage attacks caused brief hiccups in the country’s exports but have not had a lasting impact on its ability to export crude oil from the oil-rich south.

Southern Iraq has a surge export capacity of 2 million barrels a day, but usually exports about 1.6-to-1.7 million barrels a day.

Last week, a South Oil Company official predicted that sabotage would force a complete shutdown of exports, but officials and port agents say exports have continued normally.

Observers also have said that some Iraqi officials falsely claim that exports have ceased to protect pipelines, which have repeatedly been targeted by insurgents.

Iraqi oil pipelines stretch for tens of thousands of miles, and guarding all of them is a very difficult task.

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