Iraq increases oil exports while vowing to award more domestic contracts

 

Iraq’s Ministry of Oil recorded a 0.6-percent monthly increase in oil exports in July, as the oil ministry attempts to increase oil and gas output through national companies, claiming it costs less than foreign ones.

“The Ministry of Oil announced an increase in the oil exports and revenues for last July as compared to last June, according to preliminary figures released by the Iraqi Oil Marketing Company (SOMO),” read a statement from the ministry on Wednesday.

Assim Jihad, the ministry’s spokesperson, announced that total oil exports from southern and central Iraq amounted to 109,847,268 barrels of oil. The revenues amounted to $7,597,348,000. No oil exports from Kirkuk were recorded.

The average price per barrel was $69.163, according to the spokesperson, with 3.543 million bpd.

This is a 0.6-percent increase, or 22,000 barrel increase, as compared to the exports of June, when the exports were 3.521 million bpd.

“The ministry has adopted this monthly endeavor due to its belief in informing the people of the exports and revenues which have been obtained,” it stated.

The oil minister has directed national companies to undertake measures to expand and further develop oil fields.

“The Minister of Oil, Jabbar al-Luaibi, said that he has directed the Dhi Qar Oil Company, Iraqi Drilling Company, Oil Projects and other relevant parties to develop the Nasiryah oil well in the Dhi Qar province through national efforts…” read a statement from the ministry on Tuesday.

The minister added that Iraqi oil companies have the ability through a variety of ways to develop oil fields and increase production “with less expenditure and cost.”

The ministry aims to develop the production capacity of the southern field from 90,000-200,000 bpd within a year through drilling another well. $140 million has been allocated for such undertakings, but from the ministry’s pocket, not the Ministry of Finance’s — “so as to not burden the federal budget with development costs due to economic conditions,” Luaibi was quoted saying.

The ministry has also decided to develop the al-Mansuriyah gas field through “national efforts”, “following the failure and slacking of foreign companies to continue developing the field,” Luaibi was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Luaibi expressed his “high confidence in the national effort for developing oil fields.”

The initial aim is to reach 75-100 standard million cubic feet per day within a year for gas, up to a set goal of 325 standard million cubic-feet per day within some next years.

“The Ministry won’t hesitate in re-awarding unfulfilled contracts of foreign companies to national companies, which possess the capability and expertise to undertake similar work with a lower cost,” Luaibi added.

Iraq, as a founding member of OPEC, agreed with the organization as a whole to target overall outputs of 1.2 million bpd.

Because some countries are unable to increase outputs, observers see the real increase at being around 600,000 bpd; however, mounting US pressure on countries to refuse Iranian imports could encourage OPEC-member production.

Kirkuk’s oil could help Iraq increase its oil exports, but since the October 16th events — with the ousting of the Peshmerga and Iraq’s oil pipeline to Turkey being out of service — the exports have come to a halt. Around 30,000 bpd of Kirkuk’s oil are trucked to Iran.

KRG PM Nechirvan Barzani, in his latest meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, proposed exporting Kirkuk’s oil through Kurdistan Region’s pipeline to Turkey, and Iraq has said that it will work on it seriously to implement it.

Debt-ridden Iraq has faced protests in southern and central cities over a lack of jobs, services, and oil revenue sharing. Abadi, who also acts like the finance minister, has tried to appease the provincial protests by dipping into emergency funds, and promising jobs and services.

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