April 1, 2019 / 1:51 PM / in 19 days

Iraq's oil exports decline in March amid bad weather, OPEC cuts

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq’s oil exports fell month-on-month to an average of 3.377 million barrels per day (bpd) in March, the Oil Ministry said on Monday, as poor weather interrupted loadings and producer group OPEC continued to cut supplies.

FILE PHOTO: A general view of al-Zubair oil field near Basra, Iraq July 15, 2018. REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani /File Photo

Iraq, the second-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, exported 3.62 million bpd of crude oil in February.

Exports from Iraq’s southern Basra ports stood at 3.254 million bpd, the ministry said, down from 3.54 million bpd in February.

Bad weather in the Gulf halted the loading of crude on some days, Iraqi oil officials told Reuters.

“Rough weather forced us to stop loading operations more than once at the export terminals. We had to cut output from some oilfields during the export halt,” an official with knowledge of export operations said.

Another oil official said bad weather had forced a cut in production at some oilfields developed by Basra Oil Co, including Majnoon, where output declined in mid-March by 140,000 bpd from 240,000 bpd earlier in the month.

“Lower output at Majnoon in the last two weeks of March was caused by bad weather. When exports stop, we have to divert output to storage. Once storage is full, we have to reduce output,” said the official, an output supervisor in the south.

On March 26, Iraq halted crude oil loading at its southern terminals due to bad weather, two sources at Basra Oil said.

Shipments from Iraq’s northern Kirkuk oilfields to the Turkish port of Ceyhan rose to 99,000 bpd, from 63,000 bpd in February, the statement said.

The average sale price in March was $63.804 per barrel, generating around $6.68 billion in revenue, the ministry said.

Iraq is producing below its maximum capacity of nearly 5 million bpd in line with a production-cutting agreement between OPEC and allies such as Russia aimed at supporting prices.

Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Additional reporting by Aref Mohammed in Basra; Editing by Dale Hudson and Alison Williams

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