February 28, 2017 / 1:33 PM / 2 years ago

Iraq trims Kirkuk oil exports to comply with OPEC cuts, serve local market

File Photo: Iraqi Kurdish Minister for Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami speaks during a news conference in Arbil, about 350 km (217 miles) north of Baghdad February 7, 2013. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

LONDON (Reuters) - Iraq has trimmed exports of Kirkuk crude oil to better meet its supply reduction obligations with OPEC and deliver fuel for local needs amid its campaign against Islamic State, a senior official from Iraq’s semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan said.

Kurdistan and Iraq agreed last year to jointly export crude from the giant Kirkuk oilfield after cutting a preliminary revenue-sharing deal.

The minister of natural resources of Kurdistan, Ashti Hawrami, told Reuters that in recent weeks Iraq has taken 40,000-50,000 barrels per day of its Kirkuk oil share to a local refinery instead of exporting it, thus helping Baghdad’s efforts to comply with its OPEC supply reduction agreements.

“Baghdad needs some oil to supply to Mosul in anticipation that the military operation there leads to a stabilization of the situation and an increase in demand for (oil) products,” Hawrami said.

The Organization for the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) reached a deal to reduce supply from January to help to ease the global oil glut and prop up prices.

Iraq has yet to reach its targeted supply cuts but it has already surprised OPEC watchers with its efforts to comply with the deal, given that Baghdad had long opposed the idea of being part of the producers’ agreement.

OPEC says its agreement focuses on reducing production rather than exports. However, the fact that Kirkuk barrels are staying inside Iraq rather instead of being exported will help to ease oversupply in the Mediterranean market.

Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by David Goodman

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