UPDATE 2-Iraq says OPEC seeking stable world oil price

Mon Apr 9, 2012 8:43am EDT

* Iraq says OPEC seeks stable oil prices

* April exports expected at 2.3 mln bpd or slightly more

* Still studying allowing Exxon for 4th energy auction

By Ahmed Rasheed

BAGHDAD, April 9 (Reuters) - OPEC is seeking a balance in world oil prices, but political instability rather than production issues are affecting the market price, Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi said on Monday.

Brent crude slipped around $1 on Monday after Iran agreed to resume talks on its disputed nuclear programme, easing fears over a supply disruption, and prices were under pressure on demand growth concerns.

"OPEC is still doing its best to produce enough crude to meet demand, but political issues are affecting prices. World prices are affected more by political instability than by production issues," Luaibi, who is currently OPEC president, told reporters.

He said he expected Iraq's oil exports to be at 2.3 million barrels per day, or slightly more, in April.

Iraq's crude oil exports rose to their highest level since 2003 in March, at 2.317 million barrels per day (bpd) thanks to a new offshore export terminal.

Iraq will complete work at its second offshore floating oil export terminal in the Gulf in 7-10 days, Luaibi said.

"Completing works at a second offshore terminal will provide further export capacity , enabling us to pump more crude," Luaibi said.

An increase in Iraqi exports could help alleviate international markets wary of cuts in exports from neighbouring Iran due to U.S. and European sanctions on Tehran.

Iraq was still studying whether to allow Exxon Mobil to take part in a fourth oil bidding round due to a dispute over contracts it signed with Iraqi Kurdistan, he said.

Luaibi said last week Exxon Mobil had sent a second letter to the oil ministry confirming its decision to freeze its oil deals with the Kurdish autonomous region.

Exxon has signed up to explore for oil in autonomous Kurdistan region, upsetting Baghdad's central government which sees those contracts as illegal. Iraq's government has warned Exxon it may face sanctions over the Kurdish deals.

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