Iraq Kirkuk oil now contract, not auction

Jan. 28, 2008 at 4:23 PM
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BAGHDAD, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Iraq's Oil Ministry Sunday stopped auctioning its Kirkuk oil and began selling term contracts as production from the north has increased.

"The auction system is no longer in effect after Iraqi oil exports from Kirkuk oilfields have stabilized," Assem Jihad, spokesman for the Oil Ministry, told the Voices of Iraq news agency.

Iraq's northern pipelines in theory could send 1.6 million barrels per day to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. But regular attacks have kept the pipeline mostly offline since the 2003 invasion, part of the reason Iraq's average oil production since then didn't exceed 2 million bpd.

Because of the low flow levels, Iraq would have an auction of "about five to 6 million barrels each time" when the reservoirs in Turkey filled. Now the oil will be purchased in term contracts likely three months in duration.

Repairs and an increased security plan beginning last summer have allowed more oil to be pumped and flow to Turkey, a large component of Iraq's December average of 2.3 million bpd production.

Northern production, however, has not been as steady as Iraq would like.

The pipelines have been shut both because the storage tanks in Turkey were full as well as stoppages due to technical and other reasons.

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