Iraq’s new Basrah Heavy to become third-biggest freely traded Mideast Gulf crude stream

Iraq has scheduled a greater-than-expected inaugural amount of exports of its new Basrah Heavy crude grade, which will enable the country to further expand its market share in Asia-Pacific and North America. Iraq is Opec’s second-largest producer.

State-owned oil marketer Somo plans to load more than 1.2mn b/d of Basrah Heavy in June, boosting total Iraqi sales from its southern export terminals in the Mideast Gulf to a record high of almost 3.2mn b/d. That would make Basrah Heavy the third-biggest freely traded crude stream in the Mideast Gulf, within just a month of the grade being split out from the Basrah Light stream, which will remain the region’s largest. Abu Dhabi’s Murban crude from the UAE is likely to remain the second-largest freely traded crude stream.

Commodity market price reporting service, Argus is today launching a Basrah Heavy price assessment in the daily Argus Crude report as trading liquidity in this market is likely to rise. The participation of Iraq’s technical service contract partners, which receive crude as payment in kind for their upstream development services and can resell it on a spot basis, is expected to boost trading activity further. Argus will publish a daily outright price and a differential for the new grade.

Argus Media chairman and chief executive Adrian Binks said: “Argus wants to contribute to the transparency of this huge emerging market right from the beginning. The Basrah Heavy price assessment will help market participants understand value and make better-informed decisions.”

Basrah Heavy will be loaded at single-point mooring facilities near the Basrah Oil Terminal, in the northwest of the Mideast Gulf. From there, the crude can be shipped to markets as diverse as the US, India, China and South Korea.