Iraq's Oil Exports Fall in April Amid Port Work, OPEC Cut
Oil shipments from Iraq's southern terminals have fallen so far in April, according to loading data and an industry source, reflecting a temporary drop in export capacity and Iraqi efforts to comply with OPEC production cuts.
OPEC's second-largest producer has curbed output this year as part of an OPEC-led supply reduction deal, although OPEC figures show that until March Iraq had delivered a smaller cut than other members such as top exporter Saudi Arabia.
Exports from southern Iraq - the outlet for most of the country's crude - in the first 19 days of April averaged 3.10 million barrels per day (bpd), according to shipping data tracked by Reuters and by an industry source.
That would be down from last month, when shipments averaged 3.24 million bpd through March 30, according to figures given by Iraq's state oil marketer, SOMO.
While Iraq has cut production, the drop in April shipments is also related to reduced export capacity after a tanker collided with a jetty due to strong winds, the industry source said. Repairs were completed on Sunday.
"It's just come back online this weekend, so exports could rise again," the source said. Iraq said the incident did not affect shipments.
Oil traders have been sceptical about compliance with the OPEC supply deal by Iraq, which in negotiations last year had argued it should be exempt due to a need for cash to fight Islamic State militants.
The supply cut led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries started on Jan. 1. Iraq says it is committed to and complying with the deal.
It is not possible to draw firm conclusions about production from export data, not least because the deal among OPEC and other independent producers applies to output, not exports.
Iraq's exports are often volatile day-to-day, affected by weather and technical snags among other factors.
The bulk of Iraq's oil is exported via the southern terminals. Smaller amounts are shipped from northern Iraq via Ceyhan in Turkey, mostly by Iraq's Kurdish region.
Northern exports have averaged about 420,000 bpd so far in April, shipping data shows, versus Kurdish exports of about 515,000 bpd in March according to SOMO figures.
(By Alex Lawler)