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Iraq Boosts Oil Exports In Early February Despite OPEC+ Pledge

OPEC’s second-largest producer, Iraq, boosted its crude oil exports by 4.4 percent to 3.44 million barrels per day (bpd) in the first two weeks of February, data compiled by Bloomberg showed on Thursday, even though Iraq has pledged to restrain production to compensate for the previous non-compliance with the OPEC+ deal.

Crude oil exports are not an exact measure of production, but if Iraq keeps the pace of its exports of 3.44 million bpd, it could bust its self-imposed production ceiling of 3.6 million bpd for February, also considering the amount of oil it consumes domestically.

OPEC’s second-largest producer behind Saudi Arabia has increased exports in the first half of February, expecting inclement weather in the second half to potentially disrupt exports, an industry official told Bloomberg, while another official said that Iraq plans to meet its production target for the full month of February.

At the end of last month, Ali Nizar, the deputy chief of SOMO, the oil marketing company of Baghdad, said that Iraq would pump less oil in January and February to make up for excess production last year.

For both January and February, Iraq plans average daily output of 3.6 million barrels, Ali Nizar told Bloomberg in an interview. This would compare with 3.85 million barrels daily for December.

At the latest meeting of the OPEC+ group in early February, Iraq reiterated “its commitment to adhering to full conformity and compensating for overproduced volumes,” OPEC said in a press release.

In a sign that Iraq is trying to comply with the pact and compensate for past overproduction, Baghdad is said to have reduced its term supplies for 2021 to several major Indian refiners by 10-20 percent, in a totally unexpected move from OPEC’s second-biggest producer which is hard-pressed for revenues that account for most of its export income.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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