Due to bad weather at its southern ports, Iraq’s crude oil exports dropped to their lowest level in seven months in November, despite the fact that after a year-long hiatus, the federal government resumed exports at a much reduced rate from the north in mid-November.
According to a statement by Iraq’s oil ministry, as carried by S&P Global Platts, Iraq’s federal exports in November averaged 3.372 million bpd, the lowest level since April this year.
Iraq’s exports in November dropped for a third consecutive month, after declines in September and October and following a record-high export level of 3.583 million bpd in August. Iraq’s exports in October were also disrupted by bad weather at the southern oil ports.
In November, the southern ports exported an average of 3.363 million bpd and the Kirkuk-to-Turkey oil pipeline of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region saw federal Iraqi oil flows at around 9,000 bpd.
In the middle of November, Iraq resumed oil exports from the Kirkuk province, a year after it had stopped oil flows from the area due to a dispute with the Kurdistan region.
Around 300,000 bpd of crude oil previously pumped and exported in the Kirkuk province to the Turkish port of Ceyhan were shut in when the Iraqi federal government moved in October last year to take control over the oil fields in Kirkuk from Kurdish forces after the semi-autonomous region held a referendum that Baghdad didn’t recognize. However, the only export outlet of the Kirkuk oil is the oil pipeline of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Iraq and the KRG reached a deal on Baghdad using the pipeline for federal government exports, but last month’s bad weather at Basra and other southern terminals disrupted Iraq’s loading schedules.
Yet, Iraq—OPEC’s second-biggest producer after Saudi Arabia—has been raising its crude oil production and exports this year, especially after the June meeting at which production cuts were relaxed.
Now that Baghdad has reached an agreement to export its Kirkuk oil via the Kurdistan pipeline to Turkey, it could be a headache for OPEC, which meets later this week to discuss a fresh production cut.