Iraq’s oil exports have slipped so far in April to 2.92 million b/d, according to loading data and industry sources, although shipments from OPEC’s second-largest producer remain close to a record high.
If sustained, Iraq’s exports this month will be just short of the record of 2.98 million b/d set in March. Another strong month from Iraq adds to signs of continued high output from major members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Exports from Iraq’s southern terminals have averaged 2.50 million b/d) in the first 19 days of April, according to shipping data seen by Reuters and an industry source, down from 2.71 million bpd in March.
But exports from Iraq’s north via Ceyhan in Turkey, comprising Iraq’s Kirkuk crude and Kurdish oil, have averaged 420,000 b/d so far in the month, according to loading data and an industry source, up from March’s 270,000 b/d.
“Iraq’s exports are marginally down in April,” said one of the industry sources who monitors Iraq’s exports. “But it is still very impressive.”
The southern oilfields, being developed with the help of foreign oil companies, produce the bulk of Iraq’s oil and the terminals are its main outlet to world markets. Located far from the parts of the country controlled by Islamic State, they have kept pumping despite the unrest.
Northern exports were offline for most of 2014 and resumed in December following a deal between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Flows have steadily increased and appear to have climbed even further in recent days.
The observed export rate is less than the 3.1 million b/d that Iraqi Oil Minister Adel Abdel Mehdi on April 15 said should be achieved this month, provided nothing unexpected happens.
Iraq has targeted even higher exports in 2015 although that is not certain. Bad weather, technical problems and unrest can disrupt supplies.