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OPEC’s No.2 Goes Rogue, Plans To Pump 5 Million Bpd

Iraq’s crude oil output could hit 5 million barrels daily by the end of the year, the country’s Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi told Iraqi media, adding that these projections “will not be affected by any fluctuations”.

According to OPEC’s latest Monthly Oil Market Report, in June Iraq pumped 4.5 million barrels of crude daily, up from 4.44 million bpd in May, according to secondary source data.

Exports in June averaged 3.2 million bpd, according to cargo loading data cited by Reuters. That’s up substantially from the 2.69 million bpd average for May and follows a decision by Baghdad to split the crude oil it exports into two grades, Basra Light and Basra Heavy, which prompted some field operators to boost output.

Al-Luaibi’s announcement of production growth plans comes ahead of a meeting of oil ministers today in St. Petersburg, to discuss how the oil production deal is progressing and what further steps the partners need to take to accelerate this progress. It also comes a week after Ecuador announced it would no longer comply with its obligations under the deal as it needs oil revenues to patch up its budget.

Iraq was perhaps the least willing OPEC member to take part in the deal. To the last day, Baghdad insisted it should be exempted from any cuts along with Nigeria and Libya due to its ongoing battle with IS that requires oil-export money. That Al-Luaibi’s announcement comes now that the deal was extended by another nine months, to March 2018, strongly suggests Iraq may follow Ecuador out the door.

Iraq is the second-largest oil exporter in OPEC, after Saudi Arabia. Under the November 2016 deal terms, it agreed to cut 210,000 bpd from its daily crude oil output, but to date has fallen short of hitting this target.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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