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Despite Promises To Cut, Iraq Raises February Oil Exports

Crude oil exports from Iraq went up by 1 percent to 3.85 million barrels daily in February, despite the OPEC oil production cut that has seen Saudi Arabia and other major Gulf exporters cut their shipments abroad.

Most of the increase came from the Kurdistan autonomous region, over which the central government in Baghdad has no real control: exports from the northern fields around Kirkuk that are under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government rose by 9 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Shipments from Iraq’s largest port of Basra went up by 1 percent.

Iraq has been the focus of worry regarding the OPEC deal because of its dependence on oil revenues. OPEC’s second-biggest producer pledged – after much opposition – to reduce its daily output by 210,000 barrels but it has not yet reached the mark. According to the latest data available, at the end of January its production was still 130,000 bpd above this quota.

Many expected Iraq to cheat on the output cut deal, and these expectations were heightened after the country reported a daily export rate of 3.51 million bpd from the Basra terminal in December – a record high.

Reports about ambitious plans for expanding Iraq’s refining capacity contributed to the pessimism, but Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi reassured the market that Iraq will stick to its undertaking in the production cut agreement, adding that it plans to tender five new refineries on an investment basis, and expand existing ones, most of them damaged during the war with IS.

Despite the worries, Iraqi officials are doing their best to reassure the market that the country will honor its word and cut production as agreed. Earlier this month, for instance, loading data reported by Reuters revealed that exports from Basra, the largest oil export terminal in the country, were to be cut to 3.01 million bpd in March – the lowest daily since last August.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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