Iraq oil industry on road to recovery

British oil industry personnel rebuilding southern Iraq’s Basra refinery say it is now able to produce refined product.

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By  Brian Scudder Published  April 21, 2003

British oil industry personnel rebuilding southern Iraq’s Basra refinery say it is now able to produce refined product - the first refinery in Iraq to be ready since the coalition’s advance into the country.

British military reservists Robert Spears of BP and Keith James of Shell UK said that all that is standing between production of up to 70,000 barrels of fuel oil, diesel, petrol, benzene and butane are cable joints worth $30,000 - needed to reconnect the plant’s 33KV power supply.

‘70,000 barrels a day at a crude price of $28 a barrel is $1.96 million a day,’ said James. ‘It’s taken long enough. We’ve got water and power in. It’s time to deliver.’

‘The Iraqi gas distribution manager with (American oil contractors) Kellogg, Brown and Root) said at the meeting this morning that they had three GOSPs (Gas Oil separation Plants) up and running this morning,’ said Spears, who was seconded from BP’s Grangemount (spsp) oil rig where he is a senior electrical engineer.

‘These are supplying Zubair Number One – the centre of the web – with gas and oil. That then feeds crude input to the refinery, and gas input to produce electricity at the refineries’ substation. All we need is to connect that power to the refinery, and we can start producing product. We are starting to crank it up.’

The refinery currently only has an 11KV supply that remained partially intact when the Iraqi authorities dug a trench around its substation to prevent damage during military action. This power meant 700 metres cubed of petrol from refinery reserves could be pumped for local distribution yesterday.

But digging destroyed several power cables, including all the 33KV transmission lines. The refinery needs all of that power to work at full capacity.

‘We will probably start at half load,’ said Spears. ‘It uses 20MW at capacity – and that is why we need all 33KV.’

Asked how long it might take to get the plant producing, James remarked: ‘It could take seven days, but how long is a piece of string? It will take as long as it takes for the cable to come. We have reached the critical point in the crisis.’

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