By Ahmed Rasheed
BAGHDAD, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Iraq produced a record of around 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in December, Oil Minister Adel Abdel Mehdi announced on Sunday.
“It is the first time Iraq has achieved this,” Abdel Mehdi told a press conference alongside Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.
Abdel Mehdi also revealed plans to export 375,000 bpd for the first three months of 2015 from around the northern city of Kirkuk and the Kurdistan region. He said those fields would increase production to 600,000 bpd as of April.
The previous monthly record for Iraqi production was 3.56 million bpd in 1979, according to an official from Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization.
Abdel Mehdi told reporters that Iraq had set the level of exports for Iraq’s northern and Kurdish oilfields for the first three months of 2015 after the meeting with Yildiz.
“We have agreed to keep the level of exports at 375,000 bpd for the first three months of the year, and as of April, we will increase exports to 600,000 bpd,” Abdel Mehdi said.
The oil from Iraq’s north is exported via a pipeline network from the Kurdistan region to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.
The arrangement is the result of an interim deal reached between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan in early December after years of acrimony between the two sides over oil rights.
Under the deal, the sides agreed to ship 300,000 bpd of oil from Kirkuk and 250,000 bpd from Kurdistan via the Kurds’ pipeline network.
Baghdad and the Kurdish region were prompted to set aside their differences by the jihadist group Islamic State’s seizure of territory across large sections of northern Iraq. (Reporting By Ahmed Rasheed, Writing by Ned Parker; Editing by Kevin Liffey)