Blaming pipelines, blaming Kurdistan?Iraqi crude oil exports hit new low
Crude exports from Iraq declined in January to an average of 2.228 million barrels per day (bpd) but should rise next month, Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi said.
Luaibi attributed the drop from 2.341 million bpd in December to attacks on the pipeline carrying oil from the northern Kirkuk oilfields to Turkey, as well as disruption to shipping from Iraq's southern ports due to bad weather.
But the completion of work on a new platform at Basra ports in February will increase export capacity to more than 5 million bpd, he forecast.
Of the 2.228 million bpd exported in January, 2.036 came from Basra and 192,000 from Kirkuk, Luaibi said, adding that Iraq is aiming to ship more oil to Africa in addition to Asian and European markets.
"We have demand from Sudan, Eritrea, Egypt and some other countries — this market is promising," Luaibi said at a seminar attended by senior officials including Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussein Al-Shahristani.
Outlining challenges faced by the Iraqi oil industry, Shahristani cited a lack of consensus over how to exploit the country's hydrocarbon reserves and reiterated his position that the federal government has exclusive rights to do so.
The federal government in Baghdad is at loggerheads with the autonomous Kurdistan region in the north, which has built its own export pipeline to Turkey and says it is entitled to market crude on its own terms.
Negotiations between the two sides have so far borne little fruit, but the flow of oil through the new pipeline has accelerated efforts to find a compromise.
"Although we had some progress, it hasn't been settled yet," Al-Shahristani said.
"We hope this will be finished within the next short period."