Oil exports from Iraq rose to a record 2.8mn barrels bpd on average in February, Deputy Prime Minister for energy Hussain al-Shahristani told reporters yesterday.
The increase is likely to restore some confidence in Iraq’s oil revival, which got under way in 2010 after decades of sanctions and war, but slowed last year due to technical and security problems. A sustainable rise could weigh on global oil prices.
The February figure was up from 2.228mn bpd the previous month thanks to the completion of work on expanding the capacity of the southern Basra port, from which the bulk of Iraq’s crude is shipped.
“These projects which we carried out relating to development and production have enabled Iraq to produce 3.5mn bpd and to export 2.8mn bpd, which is a historic figure,” al-Shahristani told reporters at the Basra refinery as he attended a ceremony for the opening of new units.
Iraq set an export target of 3.4mn bpd for 2014, including 400,000 bpd from the autonomous Kurdistan region, implying production of 4mn bpd, including oil used domestically.
Production in February reached 3.5mn bpd, and al-Shahristani blamed the shortfall on the Kurds, who are at odds with the Iraqi central government over oil rights and stopped exporting via the national network more than one year ago.
Since then, they have been exporting smaller quantities on their own terms by truck, whilst building a separate pipeline to Turkey, infuriating Baghdad, which claims sole authority to manage all Iraqi oil.
Current Kurdish production capacity stands below 400,000 bpd, and around one third of that is refined locally.
Of the 2.8mn bpd exported in February, 2.5mn came from Basra, al-Shahristani said. The rest was exported from the northern Kirkuk oilfields via a pipeline to Turkey that has repeatedly been sabotaged.
Iraq also used to export between 10,000 bpd-12,000 bpd of crude by truck across the border to Jordan, but conflict in the western province of Anbar put a halt to that this year.