LONDON: Oil exports from southern Iraq have rebounded so far in April, a leading tanker-tracking company said on Thursday, suggesting Opec’s second-largest producer will continue to show lower adherence than rivals to an Opec-led supply-cut pact.
Southern Iraqi exports in the first 21 days of April averaged 3.56 million barrels per day, according to Petro-Logistics. That is up from an average of 3.25 million bpd in March, according to Iraqi figures.
Iraq’s higher exports arise as the debate in Opec is moving towards possibly raising output to meet any shortages from a further drop in Iranian supply. Baghdad says it is committed to Opec’s supply cut deal and would not pump more unilaterally.
“We saw low volumes last month, but that was bad weather-related and now we’re seeing a rebound,” Daniel Gerber, Petro-Logistics’ chief executive, told Reuters.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has been cutting production since Jan. 1 as part of a deal with Russia and other allies. Iraq has yet to fully comply with the accord according to Opec figures, while Saudi Arabia has cut supply further than it was required to.
The south is the main outlet for Iraq’s crude. The Petro-Logistics figures are higher than those provided earlier this month by oil industry sources in Iraq, who put April shipments at 3.25 million bpd.
The increase in April brings exports close to the monthly record of 3.63 million bpd reached in December, according to Iraqi figures. Petro-Logistics put the March exports at around 3.1 million bpd, lower than Iraq itself.
Iraq, which has been expanding its oil export capacity, was reluctant to join a previous Opec-led supply cut effort which began in 2017 and was at times Opec’s least compliant member with the initiative.
The Opec-led deal applies to production, not exports. It is possible that Iraq could have cut production and maintained exports from crude held in storage, or reduced supply to domestic refineries.
Iraq’s shipments abroad from the north have remained stable in April at just over 400,000 bpd, according to tanker data compiled by Reuters and Petro-Logistics.
Under the Opec-led deal, Iraq agreed to cut production by 141,000 bpd to 4.512 million bpd.