Iraq’s Oil Marketing Organization announced that petroleum exports returned to over 2 million barrels a day in September. The Marketing Organization claimed that last month Iraq exported 2.021 million barrels a day. That was up from 1.788 million barrels a day in August and 1.820 million barrels in July. Basra continued to be the workhorse of Iraq’s oil industry carrying an average of 1.508 million barrels a day, compared to only 513,000 barrels shipped to Turkey through the northern line, and 10,000 barrels trucked to Jordan a day. The Marketing Organization also noted that one reason for the increased foreign sales was surplus oil that was stored in Turkey that was finally released. That probably meant actual production and exports weren’t as high as reported. The State Department for example, reported that overall production only increased to 2.35 million barrels a day in September, up from 2.32 million in August and 2.30 million in July, while exports averaged 1.95 million barrels a day in September. If true, that would mean last month had the second highest export mark since February when Iraq sold 2.05 million barrels a day.
September follows the post-2003 up and down pattern in Iraqi petroleum exports. In January 2009 for example, Iraq sold an average of 1.91 million barrels a day. Then exports declined before climbing back up to 2.04 million barrels in July, followed by another dip until returning to 2.05 million barrels in February 2010. It took another seven months for exports to go back up to 2 million barrels in September. The head of the State Oil Marketing Organization stated that he expected the country to consistently average over 2 million barrels by the end of 2011 because of the new oil deals it signed with foreign companies. The problem as ever is Iraq’s aging infrastructure, weather, bottlenecks, and attacks upon the northern pipeline. The Oil Ministry has plans to address these issues, but until those come to fruition, the petroleum fields can increase production, but the country won’t have the capacity to sell more.
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, “Iraq Status Report,” U.S. Department of State, 10/6/10
Reuters, “Iraq oil exports soar to over 2 million bpd,” 10/5/10