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Iraq Looks To Seize Greater Oil Market Share In Asia

Somo Iraq

Iraq has allocated 67 percent of its 2019 oil sales to Asia, the country’s oil ministry said on Tuesday, as OPEC’s second-biggest producer aims to sell more of its oil on the prized Asian markets.

Iraq’s oil sales next year will include shipments from both the key export ports in Basra in southern Iraq and from the Kirkuk oil fields in the north, Reuters quoted the oil ministry as saying in a statement.

Earlier this month, Iraq resumed oil exports from the Kirkuk province, a year after it had stopped oil flows from the area due to a dispute with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region over oil shipments via the only export outlet in the area—a pipeline owned by the Kurdistan region.

For next year, apart from 67 percent of Iraq’s oil going to Asia, 20 percent will be exported to Europe, and the remaining 13 percent will be shipped to North and South America, according to the Iraqi oil ministry.

Iraq is raising the share of its oil shipped to Asia to 67 percent for 2019, from around 60 percent earlier this year. In March this year, Alaa al-Yasiri, the head of Iraq’s state oil marketing company SOMO, told Reuters that Iraq was looking to grab a greater market share on the Asian markets and was working to sign joint venture deals with China, Japan, India, and South Korea. 

Earlier this month, al-Yasiri told Bloomberg in an interview that Iraq is intensifying efforts to build up its market share in Asia and aims to boost its oil supply to the world’s top oil importer China by around 60 percent.

Related: Why The China-Philippines Energy Deal Won’t Last

Based on talks with current long-term customers, Iraq is ready to send around 1.45 million bpd of oil to China next year, al-Yasiri said. To compare, Iraq currently ships around 900,000 bpd to ten term buyers in China, including state oil traders ChinaOil and Unipec, the Iraqi manager told Bloomberg.

If Iraq manages to ship 1.45 million bpd to China, it will become Beijing’s second-largest oil supplier ahead of Saudi Arabia and second only to Russia, as per China’s latest oil import figures.

SOMO will also launch an oil trading venture with Zhenhua Oil, with tentative plans to sell some 160,000 bpd to independent Chinese refiners and large petrochemical plants, al-Yasiri told Bloomberg. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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