Iraq oil exports near record even as protests threaten paralysis

Business Monday 02/May/2016 13:38 PM
By: Times News Service
Iraq oil exports near record even as protests threaten paralysis

Baghdad: Iraq’s oil exports approached a record high in April, adding barrels to a worldwide supply glut even as protests against public corruption threatened to paralyse the government of Opec’s second-largest producer.
Shipments rose to 3.36 million barrels a day, or 100.92 million barrels for the month, Asim Jihad, an Oil Ministry spokesman, said by text message on Sunday. The figures don’t include sales by the Kurdistan Regional Government. Exports rose from 3.29 million barrels a day in March and were close to the November all-time high of 3.365 million a day, according to ministry figures.
Oil shipments and production weren’t affected on Sunday after protesters stormed the parliament in Baghdad, Falah Al Amri, chairman of Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organisation, said by Facebook message. The demonstrators have accused the government of putting off necessary reforms as it struggles in the fight against militants and sees its finances battered by collapsing oil prices.
"Politically, things have worsened dramatically in Iraq,” Richard Mallinson, an analyst at Energy Aspects, said on Sunday by phone from London. "It’s a negative for the country’s oil industry over the medium term. We’re going to see production plateau and start to decline later this year” as government turmoil and spending cuts affect projects needed to maintain output.
Iraq produced 4.3 million barrels a day in April, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Output has increased from 3.25 million barrels a day two years ago, with companies including BP and Lukoil boosting production at fields they operate in the south of the country.
The government declared a state of emergency in Baghdad after supporters of Moqtada Al Sadr stormed parliament. The action on Saturday increases "the social and political risk that will have to be factored in to assessing Iraq,” said Edward Bell, a commodities analyst at lender Emirates NBD in Dubai.
Al Sumaria television reported later on Sunday that Al Sadr’s supporters would leave Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, where the government buildings are located, citing a statement from the protests’ committee.