08.Feb .2023 22:00

Iraqi oil flows to Turkey resume, Azerbaijani exports still halted

Iraqi oil flows to Turkey resume, Azerbaijani exports still halted
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Flows through the Iraqi crude pipeline to Türkiye’s oil export hub Ceyhan resumed on Tuesday evening as a tanker docked to load crude, the first since powerful earthquakes on Monday, ship tracking showed and industry sources said.

Bad weather earlier in the day prevented loading. Two massive quakes that struck southeastern Türkiye and severely impacted neighboring Syria had halted operations at the 1 million barrel per day (bpd) oil export terminal in Ceyhan, and stopped key crude oil flows from Iraq and Azerbaijan.

The Vallesina was shown at a jetty at the BOTAŞ Ceyhan terminal on Tuesday evening local time, based on Refinitiv Eikon ship tracking. A trading source said the vessel was given the all-clear to load Iraqi oil from storage.

The ministry of natural resources for Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said the pipeline restarted flows at 9:45 p.m. local time (6:45 p.m. GMT).

Before the halt, the KRG had been pumping about 400,000 bpd and Iraq's federal government was pumping 75,000 bpd through the Kerkuk-Ceyhan pipeline.

The eastern Mediterranean terminal of Ceyhan is some 155 kilometers (96 miles) from the area of the magnitude 7.7 quake that struck southern Türkiye and northwest Syria early on Monday, killing nearly 10,000 people across a swathe of the two countries as thousands of buildings collapsed.

It was the worst tremor to strike Türkiye this century and was followed in the early afternoon by another large quake of magnitude 7.6.

While Iraqi crude flows and exports have resumed, shipments of Azerbaijani crude were still stopped. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which exports Azerbaijani crude oil to international markets, was however still working and sending oil to storage in Ceyhan, two sources said.

Oil production at the BP-led Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli project in Azerbaijan continues as a result, the sources said.

Azerbaijan uses Ceyhan as its main crude export hub, with a flow of about 650,000 bpd.

The Alfa Baltica and the Nordlotus tankers were waiting in the area for the crude BTC terminal at Ceyhan to reopen.

The BTC terminal was not expected to resume until Wednesday or Thursday, according to shipping and trading sources, as damage at the terminal was being assessed. A shipping agent said the control room at the terminal had been damaged.

Earlier, BP Azerbaijan said a "small" oil leak had been found at Ceyhan, which led to operations being halted.

Sources on Monday said the BTC pipeline was undamaged and Azerbaijan's storage at Sangachal, south of Baku, could allow current production levels to continue for four days, Daily Sabah reports.