Iraq's Oil Exports Are Up, Despite OPEC Output Cuts

Updated on
  • February shipments reached 3.85 million barrels a day
  • Exports increased from Basra in south Iraq and Kurds in north

Iraq’s crude exports rose 1 percent by volume in February, contrasting with a decrease in monthly shipments by Saudi Arabia after both countries agreed to OPEC’s plan to cut oil production in an effort to prop up prices and trim a global oversupply.

Exports increased to 3.85 million barrels a day last month, about 39,000 barrels a day more than in January, according to port-agent reports and ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. Shipments from the southern port of Basra grew by about 1 percent, and sales by the Kurdish Regional Government in the north of the country rose about 9 percent, the data show.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is limiting output in the first half of this year to cut global crude stockpiles that are weighing on prices. The group agreed on Nov. 30 to decrease production by 1.2 million barrels a day, with 11 countries outside of OPEC pledging to reduce by about 600,000.  Vessel-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg show that Saudi Arabia, the group’s largest member, cut exports by about 2 percent in February to 7.04 million barrels a day -- supporting the kingdom’s assertion that it’s paring output.

Iraq pledged to cut 210,000 barrels a day from its own production, compared with the level in October, the month that OPEC set as a baseline for its agreement. International Energy Agency data showed that Iraq reduced output by 110,000 barrels a day in January.

Sales in February fell short of the level in October, when the country shipped 3.91 million barrels a day, according to tanker tracking data. Exports may decline to a seven-month low of 3.01 million barrels a day in March, compared with Iraq’s plans to ship about 3.64 million barrels a day last month, according to loading programs obtained by Bloomberg. 

Loading programs give an indication of planned exports and can change if vessels are delayed or if ships are added to the schedule. As a result, the programs can differ from tanker-tracking figures.