April 9 (UPI) -- Iraq, one of the leading producers in OPEC, continues to be among those doing the least to support an agreement credited with supporting oil prices, data show.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, with support of other producers like Russia, is in its second year of an agreement to drain a surplus on a five-year average in crude oil inventories through coordinated production cuts. The deal is credited with pulling crude oil prices from historic lows of less than $30 per barrel in early 2016.
Data from commodity pricing group S&P Global Platts show total OPEC production in March was 32.14 million barrels per day, the lowest point since April last year. Seven of the 14 OPEC members cut production last month and March levels were 590,000 bpd below the 32.73 million bpd outlined in the original OPEC framework. Libya and Nigeria are exempt for national security reasons.
"Iraq has consistently been a back-slider on OPEC compliance," the emailed report from Platts read. "The group's second largest producer has exceeded its target by the most in OPEC -- about 76,000 bpd since the deal began -- with its compliance level a mere 64 percent."
Government data show March exports were 107 million barrels, or an average of 3.4 million bpd, at a price of $59.95 per barrel. February exports were closer to 3.3 million barrels per day on average. The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, was closer to $67 per barrel early Monday.
No oil exports were counted by the government in Baghdad for Kirkuk in northern Iraq. Most of the oil from the north flows over the border through Turkey from territory controlled by the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government.
Platts data show Iraq produced 4.46 million bpd in March, supported in part by renewed production in Kirkuk, which Baghdad took from the KRG late last year.
Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi in February met in Baghdad with the regional director of Russian oil company Rosneft to discuss opportunities in the Iraqi energy sector, including efforts to overhaul a pipeline running north from Kirkuk to the Turkish port city of Ceyhan. British energy company BP has also been mentioned alongside operations in northern Iraq.