Iraq Seen Raising Southern Oil Exports Amid War, Pay Dispute

  • Loading programs show higher Basrah Light, Heavy oil shipments
  • Crude export volume from south seen rising 26% in October

Iraq plans to increase exports of Basrah crude by 26 percent next month, as the country continues to raise output amid fighting with militants and a payment dispute with the northern Kurdish region, according to a loading program obtained by Bloomberg News.

The Middle Eastern country plans to export a combined 81 cargoes of Basrah Light and Basrah Heavy grade crudes totaling 114 million barrels in October, according to the program. That’s an increase from the 90.5 million barrels planned for shipment in September. Loading programs are planned schedules for shipments during a given month. 

The October program would mean a record for exports if Iraq made all the shipments planned for the month. However, loading programs are subject to change, and the country’s actual exports can vary from the plan. Total exports in June were 3.19 million barrels a day, Oil Ministry data show, falling short of the planned record level of 3.75 million indicated in shipping records.

Fifth-Biggest Reserves

Iraq, with the world’s fifth-biggest oil reserves, is rebuilding its energy industry after decades of war, economic sanctions and mismanagement. Government troops are currently battling Islamist militants who seized major cities and have controlled much of the country for the past year. The oil-rich Basra area in southern Iraq has been largely unaffected by the conflict, and fighters from Iraq’s self-governing Kurdish region took control of fields around Kirkuk to prevent their capture by the militants. A dispute over payments for oil sales from the Kurdish region in Iraq’s north hasn’t stopped the country from boosting total output.

Iraq pumped 4.3 million barrels a day last month after increasing production to more that 4 million barrels daily in June, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The loading program shows Iraq will ship 55 cargoes of Basrah Light crude totaling 86.2 million barrels in October, or 2.78 million daily, up from 60 million scheduled for this month. Exports of Basrah Heavy are seen at 26 cargoes, totaling 27.8 million barrels, or 897,000 a day, down from 30.5 million planned for this month.

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