Iraq’s July oil exports approach pre-war levels

Iraq aims to boost oil exports in July to their highest level since the US-led invasion in 2003  and to pump even more in August, a top oil official said on Sunday.


Rising output and the rally in oil prices this year had eased pressure on the government, Falah Al Amri, the head of Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO) told Reuters. Baghdad cut its state budget three times after last year’s price slump of around $115 a barrel from peak to trough.

“The pressure has been less on the government because of the improvement in price and the increase in production,” Al Amri said.

Iraq needs cash from oil sales to rebuild an economy shattered after years of sanctions and war.

Pressure problems at southern fields wiped about 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) from output after Iraqi exports hit a post-war high of 2.01 million bpd in May 2008. The decline alarmed the Iraqi government, which put in place a rapid development plan to revive flagging output early this year.

Exports to date in July are ahead of the month’s target at around 2.2 million bpd and up 275,000 bpd from June, Al Amri said.

“This will continue, I think the increase is sustainable,” he said. “The crush plan has started to work.” Higher output from both the north and the south of the country had contributed to higher exports, Al Amri said.

Iraq was targeting exports of 2.03-2.05 million bpd for July, and 2.08-2.10 million bpd for August, Alamri said. Total crude output stood at around 2.5 million bpd, he added.

SOMO had allocated exports of around 2.3 million bpd to clients in the second half of the year, Al Amri said. That was up slightly from the 2.241 million bpd allocated in the first half of the year, although Iraq failed to meet those commitments.

Exports from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in the north have added to the export total. Despite a feud between the oil ministry and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) over the legality of KRG contracts, Baghdad allowed the KRG to begin oil exports last month.

Iraq was targeting even higher exports this year of around 2.4 million bpd, Al Amri said. It was aiming for a flow of 1.850 million bpd from the south and 550,000 bpd in the north, he added.

Exports from Basra in July stood at 1.557 million bpd, up from 1.397 million bpd in June, Al Amri said.

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