Q&A: Ibrahim Abdul-Zahra, deputy director of the South Refineries Company

Iraq’s refineries cannot meet domestic demand for fuel and the poor quality of crude feedstock is compounding the problem.
Ibrahim Abdul-Zahra, deputy director of the South Refineries Company. (ALI AL-AQILY/Iraq Oil Report)

BASRA - Iraq’s southern refineries are struggling to cope with rising domestic demand for gasoline amid a fuel crisis that has been made worse by rampant smuggling.

Iraq Oil Report spoke with Ibrahim Abdul-Zahra, the deputy director of the state-run South Refineries Company (SRC), to ask about southern Iraq's domestic supply capacity.

Some refining units are operating below their nameplate capacity, he said, partly because of the high salt, water and mud content of the crude feedstock. For now, the country needs to import gasoline to mix with local production and blend with condensate in order to meet demand.

The gap between supply and demand should close a bit in September, when a fourth unit of Basra's Shuaiba refinery is scheduled to come online, adding about 70,000 bpd of new crude processing capacity.

In the meantime, Zahra said, the SRC cannot be blamed for the current fuel shortages since it is up to the state-run Oil Products Distribution Company (OPDC) to coordinate with the State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) on the amount of imports needed.

A full transcript of the interview is available below to subscribers.

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