Iraq is shifting its export focus toward Asia to take advantage of growing regional demand, Iraqi Minister Councilor for Energy Affairs, Dheyaa Jaafar Hajam El Musawi, told Platts.

“Iraq is strongly focused on Asia because growth is in Asia … Iraq exports around 2.4 million [barrels per day] b/d of crude oil to China, India and South Korea … they are the main Iraqi customers,” Musawi told Platts.

Iraq currently ships 52-55% of its crude exports to Asia, according to Musawi, and is looking to expand this share to up to 80% at the expense of traditional Western markets.

Emphasizing Iraq’s commitment to the agreement between OPEC and some major, non-OPEC oil-producing nations, he told Platts, “Iraq is absolutely fully committed to the OPEC agreement … [crude] sales to non-Asian regions like the US and Europe will be sacrificed.”

Iraq produced 4.32 million b/d of crude in August, excluding production from areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the Iraqi Oil Minister said earlier this month.

Iraq recently announced that it would change its price benchmark for crude exports to Asia, but later backtracked, claiming it needed more time to consider the change after some refiners questioned the decision.