Iraq flags oil project delays, sees recovery next year -minister

FILE PHOTO: Ihsan Abdul Jabbar speaks during an interview with Reuters in Basra, Iraq May 18, 2019. REUTERS/Essam al-Sudan

BAGHDAD/LONDON (Reuters) - The Iraqi oil minister said on Tuesday that oil projects are being delayed in his country because of the OPEC+ production cuts, but he expects an oil price recovery from the second quarter of next year to help the sector.

“I think quarter two, 2021 will be more attractive to every aspect of our business,” Ihsan Abdul Jabbar told the CWC Iraq Petroleum conference.

“There are some internal challenges in Iraq due to the OPEC cut... There are some delays to our projects,” he said at the conference, which was held virtually.

He said he expects Iraq will raise its production capacity to 7 million barrels per day in the next five to six years, from around 5 million bpd now.

Under an agreement between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia - a grouping known as OPEC+ - Iraq agreed to curb its output by 849,000 bpd to 3.8 million bpd until the end of the year.

However, because of a previous deviation from this target, OPEC+ asked Iraq to make additional compensation cuts until December. The group found Iraq overproduced by a cumulative 578,000 bpd in May to September, according to an internal document.

According to OPEC’s monthly report, secondary sources found Iraq produced around 3.7 million bpd in September, 46,000 bpd higher than August levels.

Jabbar said the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq has not been contributing to the agreed cuts.

He also said he expects the planned Iraqi National Oil Company, which Baghdad is preparing to establish as part of plans to improve management of the oil sector, will be up and running in the first quarter of 2022. The company will oversee the running of state oil firms.

Editing by Louise Heavens and Susan Fenton