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Kurdistan’s Oil Exports Still Below Pre-Conflict Levels

Kurdistan’s crude oil exports increased in the past couple of days, but oil flows are still well below the levels seen before the independence referendum in the semi-autonomous region that raised the tensions between the Kurds and the federal government in Baghdad.

Kurdistan’s oil flows rose to 270,000 bpd on Wednesday and Thursday, compared to flows of between 200,000 bpd and 230,000 bpd in October, Kurdistan 24 news outlet reported on Thursday, quoting oil sources.

Although crude oil flows from Kurdistan are on the rise, they are still nearly half the volumes compared to the levels before the Kurds voted on September 25 to break away from Iraq. Baghdad—which never recognized the legitimacy of the referendum—moved on in October to take control over the oil-rich area around Kirkuk.  

In the middle of last month, Iraqi government forces seized the oil fields around Kirkuk, which had been under Kurdish control since 2014. The military maneuver knocked some 350,000 bpd of crude oil production offline, and led to oil prices spiking on concerns of unstable supply from the region. The Iraq-Kurdistan conflict was the first of a series of geopolitical events in the Middle East (the other being the Saudi purge) that pushed Brent oil prices above $60 a barrel at the end of October.

Related: Is U.S. Energy Independence Realistic?

Since Iraq’s federal forces seized Kirkuk from the Kurds, disruptions in oil flows have been an almost daily occurrence, and reports have it that the flow of crude oil from Kirkuk to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan halved compared to the volumes before the conflict erupted.  

Iraq’s central government has started pumping oil from Kirkuk to Ceyhan, as it started exporting from the Avana field in Kirkuk via the Kurd-operated pipeline to Ceyhan. State-held North Oil Company was said they would also work to begin exporting from the nearby Bai Hassan oil field. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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