LONDON (Reuters) - Oil exports from southern Iraq have risen by 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) this month to close to a record high, according to shipping data and an industry source, as OPEC’s second-largest producer seeks to offset a shortfall from the north.
Southern Iraqi exports in the first 20 days of November averaged about 3.50 million bpd, up 150,000 bpd from October, according to shipping data tracked by Reuters and independent tracking by an industry source.
The increase follows a decline in output in northern Iraq since mid-October, when Iraqi forces took back control of fields from Kurdish fighters. Iraq has said southern exports would rise to make up the shortfall, although some in the industry were skeptical this would be possible.
“It seems they managed to get there,” the industry source who tracks Iraq’s exports said.
The rise brings southern exports within a whisker of the record high of 3.51 million bpd seen in December 2016, the last month before an output cut agreement led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries took effect.
The increase this month, though, has not entirely offset the drop in shipments from the north.
Northern exports have averaged about 250,000 bpd so far in November, according to shipping data and the industry source, down from an estimated 450,000 bpd in October and levels of more than 500,000 bpd in earlier months this year.
The drop in supplies from Iraq comes as OPEC, Russia and other producers are cutting output by about 1.8 million bpd until March 2018 in an effort to get rid of a glut and support prices.
Iraq has adhered less to the supply deal with non-OPEC producers than OPEC peers such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, but the drop in Kirkuk output helped to boost Iraqi and overall compliance with the deal.
The bulk of Iraq’s oil is exported via the southern terminals. Smaller amounts are shipped from the Kirkuk fields in northern Iraq via Ceyhan in Turkey.
Editing by Mark Potter