Iraq Oil Exports Steady

Iraq Oil Exports SteadyIraq Oil Exports Steady

Iraq's current southern oil output and export levels, given by the country's oil minister yesterday, indicate that fighting and unrest has not derailed an expansion of supplies from Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)'s second-largest producer.

The country's oil supplies were held back by decades of war and sanctions. It has been expanding oil production in the south since Western companies signed a series of service contracts with Baghdad in 2010, and boosted export capacity.

Iraq's oil exports from its southern terminals held close to a record high in October.

"Of course the average production in Iraq sometimes exceeded three million barrels per day (bpd), we may sometimes reach 3.2 million bpd," Oil Minister Adel Abdel Mehdi was quoted by TradeArabia as saying.

"Some of it goes to domestic refineries. The numbers are unstable ... The average exports also climbed to an average of about 2.5 million bpd."

Iraq's southern production capacity has been fluctuating, sometimes reaching 3.4-3.5 million bpd.

Iraq is facing its gravest crisis since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Islamic State (IS) militants swept through the north in June almost unopposed by the army. The IS has seized oil and petroleum products in an attempt to create a self-sustaining caliphate. The government of Iraq and the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan reached a deal this week to ease tensions over Kurdish oil exports and civil service payments from Baghdad.

Under the agreement, Iraqi Kurdistan will give 150,000 bpd of oil exports, equal to around half its overall shipments to the federal budget. Abdel Mehdi predicted the deal would double Iraqi output. Exports from Iraq's southern terminals averaged 2.55 million bpd, according to shipping data for the first 23 days of October.