Oil exports from the southern port of Basra could increase by substantial levels following upgrades to infrastructure, the Iraqi oil minister said.
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Iraqi oil exports from the southern ports peaked in December, one month before the start of a multilateral deal to curb production in an effort to balance the market. Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Country (OPEC) in January began implementing a deal to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day. Iraq, the second-largest producer in OPEC, said it would cut 200,000 bpd.
Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi in January said the country was "dealing wisely" with its commitments to OPEC.
During a visit to the Basra port, the minister said rehabilitation operations were progressing in the right direction for Iraq. According to a statement from the ministry, Luaibi said the overhauls would allow for an "unprecedented increase of oil production."
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Iraq balked initially at the OPEC agreement, which was brokered in November. The central government in Baghdad said it needed revenue to finance national security operations during the fight against the Islamic State.
Ministers from OPEC and non-member states contributing to the production deal met in late March in Kuwait to consider extending the arrangement for another six months. OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo praised the Iraqi oil minister for his "firm stand and valuable contributions throughout the consultation process culminating in these landmark achievements and decisions of the organization last year."
Iraq in February produced 4.4 million bpd, down 62,000 bpd from the previous month.
By Daniel J. Graeber