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Iraq Aims To Restart Oil Fields Attacked By ISIS

Iraq hopes to restore to production oil fields in the Nineveh area around Mosul over the “next few months”, after rehabilitating the sites that Islamic State militants had set on fire to try to hamper the U.S.-backed offensive on Mosul.

Iraq’s oil ministry has ordered the state-held North Oil Company to draft “an urgent plan” for rehabilitating the oil fields in Nineveh, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

The two biggest fields in Nineveh—Qayyara and Najma—were pumping up to 30,000 bpd of sour heavy crude oil before they were seized by ISIS terrorists in the middle of 2014. In August 2016, the army recaptured the Qayyara oil-producing regions south of Mosul from forces loyal to the Islamic State, cutting access to ISIS’ main source of revenue in the region.

Two months later, Iraq’s army and U.S.-led coalition allies launched the offensive to free Mosul from ISIS. The battle for Mosul lasted longer than expected, but in July this year, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory and said that Mosul was liberated.  

Iraq’s oil production and exports from the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, which overwhelmingly voted for independence last week in a referendum not recognized by Iraq’s central government, were the main drivers of the oil market last week, with concern over possible disruptions sending Brent prices to more than two-year highs.  

Related: Russia, China To Benefit From U.S. Sanctions On Venezuela

According to a Reuters survey and tanker data, Iraq’s crude oil production in September increased by 40,000 bpd on the back of higher exports from Kurdistan. Higher Iraqi exports and a slight recovery of production in Libya—exempt from the OPEC cuts—combined to boost the cartel’s September output by 50,000 bpd, according to the Reuters survey.

A Bloomberg survey showed that OPEC output was up last month by more than double the figure Reuters has estimated—120,000 bpd—as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Libya boosted output.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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