* 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 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,
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,"
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.