Thursday, May 7, 2015

Iraq Hits Another Record High In Oil Exports In April 2015

Iraq exported another record high in oil in April 2015. The country surpassed the 3 million barrels a day mark for the first time in over twenty years. This was due to an increase in exports by the Kurds. Ironically, Baghdad’s announcement led to a decline in international oil prices showing the precarious situation the country is in needing to earn as much money as possible with the decline in prices, but its production driving them down even more.

Iraq’s April numbers had not been seen since the 1990s. The country exported an average of 3.08 million barrels a day, up from 2.98 million in March. The latter was the previous post-2003 high. The new figures for April were the most since 1990 when Iraq exported 3.5 million barrels per day. Despite the new high it was still below the 3.3 million called for in the 2015 budget.

The record numbers were due to a large increase in Kurdish exports. In April, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) exported an average of 450,000 barrels a day for Baghdad. That was the highest amount for the region since the start of the year, which began at 153,000 barrels to 306,000 in February down to 268,000 in March before dramatically increasing last month. This was good news for the KRG because it is cash strapped. In 2014 former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cut off budget payments to the region due to its independent oil policy and the KRG has not been able to pay many of its bills since then. Under the new budget agreement its payments are largely based upon how much it exports each month.

Kurdistan is still not meeting its budget obligations. Under the deal the Kurds were to export an average of 550,000 barrels a day. Later that was renegotiated, and the KRG said it would deliver 375,000 barrels a day the first quarter of 2015, add then 600,000 barrels over the rest of the year to reach an annual average of 550,000. Instead, during the first three months of the year the Kurds reached 242,333 barrels. The reason why it has not met its mark is that the region has continued independent exports to earn money to pay off its debts. Kurdistan will have to boost its output to much higher levels if it is to meet its mark. Then again, there may be enough leeway in the agreement that if it comes close it will not be an issue.

The southern ports continued with their up and down output. In April they exported an average of 2.62 million barrels a day. That was down from 2.71 million in March, but higher than February’s 2.29 million and January’s 2.39 million. The dip was due to two of three of the single point moorings being taken off line to prepare for the new Basra Heavy crude the Oil Ministry wants to market.  

Oil prices have been creeping up since the start of the year, but Iraq’s new high had a negative affect at least for a day. In April Iraqi crude sold for $51.70 per barrel, up from $48.24 in March, $47.43 in February, and $41.45 in January. That earned the country $4.8 billion in April. Still, when news came out about Iraq’s new record high June Brent crude dipped 32 cents. Like everything else the nation has not met its price mark either set in the 2015 budget, which called for $55 per barrel. Its oil may meet that amount, but by the time it does it will not be able to earn the amounts that were predicted. That will pose further problems for the government, as it may not be able to finance its deficit.

Iraq Oil Exports & Revenues 2014-15
Avg. Price
Per Barrel
Jan. 14
2014 Avg.

2015 Oil Exports From Basra
Jan 2.39 mil/bar/day
Feb 2.29 mil/bar/day
Mar 2.71 mil/bar/day
Apr 2.62 mil/bar/day

2015 Oil Exports By Kurds
Jan 153,000 bar/day
Feb 306,000 bar/day
Mar 268,000 bar/day
Apr 450,000 bar/day


Al Bawaba, “Iraq’s oil prices drop after hike in crude output,” 5/4/15

Lando, Ben, “Iraq exports continue upward trend,” Iraq Oil Report, 5/6/15

Osgood, Patrick and Tahir, Rawaz, “Budget payment buoys Baghdad-KRG oil deal,” Iraq Oil Report, 3/26/15

Osgood, Patrick, Van Heuvelen, Ben, “Analysis: 5 key takeaways from Iraq’s 2015 draft budget,” Iraq Oil report, 1/1/15

Reuters, “(OFFICIAL)-Iraq oil exports hit record 3.08 mln bpd in April – ministry,” 5/1/15

Springborg, Robert, ed., Oil and Democracy in Iraq, London, Berkeley, Beirut: London Middle East Institute, 2007

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