Iraq’s oil exports jumped in December compared to November, as exports from the southern ports at Basra hit a record high and exports from the northern Kirkuk fields increased after a slow tentative resumption in November following a year-long hiatus.
In December 2018, Iraq’s oil exports averaged 3.726 million bpd, compared to 3.372 million bpd of exports in November, when exports had reached a seven-month low due to bad weather at the southern ports.
Iraq’s oil exports from the Basra terminals averaged 3.63 million bpd in December—a record high and up from the average exports of 3.363 million bpd in the previous month, Reuters quoted Iraq’s oil ministry as saying in a statement on Wednesday.
Exports of the federal government from the oil fields in Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean surged to 99,000 bpd in December from an average 8,716 bpd in November, according to the Iraqi oil ministry.
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 Ceyhan were shut in when the Iraqi federal government moved in October 2017 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.
Iraq’s exports from the Kirkuk oil fields will remain restricted at between 80,000 bpd and 90,000 bpd, because most of the crude oil is being sent to local refineries in northern Iraq, Oil Minister Thamir Ghadhban said last week.
OPEC’s second-biggest producer Iraq increased exports in December just ahead of the new round of the OPEC/non-OPEC production cuts which began in January and aim to clear the new oil glut and lift the price of oil which tumbled to one-year lows over the past two months.