In an attempt to deal with any potential crisis should Iran close the Strait of Hormuz, Iraq has approved a plan to expand its oil export routes by adding capacity from its northern fields and building a pipeline to ship oil from southern oilfields to the Turkish port of Ceyhan (pictured), according to Reuters.
"Short and mid-term plans will be through boosting crude pumping and upgrading export capacity via Ceyhan port in Turkey. Also to increase the number of trucks that are shipping crude," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on Sunday.
He added that "the oil ministry suggested accelerating work to complete building the north strategic pipeline and connect it to the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline to export oil from Basra via Ceyhan port".
Last year, Iraqi and Jordanian officials agreed in principle to build a pipeline to supply Jordan with crude oil in future. Iraq transports 10,000-15,000 bpd of crude exports in trucks to Jordan, but there have been difficulties with this in recent times.
Dabbagh said the plan also encouraged talks with top OPEC oil exporter Saudi Arabia to ship Iraqi crude to Yanbu on the Red Sea.
Iraq has also been moving ahead with building a 680 kilometre pipeline able to transport 1 million bpd of crude from southern oilfields around Basra to a main pumping station in Haditha in the west.
"We managed to complete constructing 200 km of the pipeline with plans to finish all work in 2013. We will have the flexibility of shipping Basra crude to various destinations, including towards Ceyhan port," an oil ministry spokesman said.
Under the contingency plan, Iraq may also revive the Iraq-Syria pipeline as a long-term measure to ship crude from southern fields to Banias in the Mediterranean. Plans to build a pipeline to transport crude to Jordan's Aqaba port were also considered.