Iraq says southern oil exports set a record

The government said it's not yet satisfied because there are still complications with getting out to a port in Turkey.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Dec. 1, 2017 at 9:35 AM
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Dec. 1 (UPI) -- The Iraqi Oil Ministry said exports from southern ports set a record, but more work was needed to make up for losses from issues in the north of the country.

The ministry said the southern port at Basra recently sent out an average of 3.9 million barrels of oil per day, the highest capacity ever reached there.

In a statement, Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said southern exports were supported by improved market conditions as the price of oil holds above $60 per barrel. That doesn't mean the country can rest on its laurels, he said. The government needs to generate more revenue to make up for losses incurred "as a result of the cessation of oil exports from the northern port through the Turkish port of Ceyhan."

Ministry spokesman Assim Jihad said earlier this week an order was given for "concerned companies and authorities" to prepare the documents related to the reconstruction of a pipeline meant to carry crude oil from Kirkuk to the Turkish sea port at Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea.

Crude oil from northern Iraq flows primarily by truck and through a pipeline from territory controlled officially by the Kurdistan Regional Government to Ceyhan. A second pipeline runs north from Kirkuk, though the ministry spokesman said it was damaged so badly by Islamic State militants that parts of it would need to be rebuilt.

Iraqi forces in early October took control over oil fields in Kirkuk, a territory of dispute between the federal government and the KRG. The seizure followed a contentious referendum for independence in the Kurdish territories, which coincided more or less with the Iraqi liberation of northern territory from the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State.

Iraq is party to the multilateral effort led by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to balance an oversupplied crude oil market with coordinated production declines, but has historically been one of the least compliant.

A survey of OPEC results from commodity pricing group S&P Global Platts said Iraq averaged 4.38 million barrels per day in oil production in October, a decline of 120,000 barrels per day. The fall was because of outages at fields controlled by the KRG.

Nevertheless, Platts reported that southern exports grew because production from central and southern Iraq was directed toward terminals on the Persian Gulf.

In terms of compliance, Platts found in an emailed report that Iraq, one of the largest producers in OPEC, was over its allocation by about 80,000 barrels per day.

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