CAIRO (Reuters) – Iraq’s Oil Ministry on Thursday denied a media report citing Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar as saying a deal was imminent with the OPEC + group to increase Iraq’s crude oil exports .
The state-owned INA news agency quoted Abdul Jabbar as telling the state-owned daily al-Sabah that he expected to conclude an agreement with OPEC and its allies – known as OPEC + – on increased exports of crude oil from Iraq.
“The oil minister did not make these comments and did not meet with the newspaper reporter,” Oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad told Reuters. The INA article has since been deleted.
“Iraq is committed to the OPEC + Agreement and is working with OPEC and non-OPEC producers to address the challenges facing global oil markets, including the spread of COVID-19 which has caused a drop in global demand for oil, ”Jihad said.
OPEC’s second-largest producer, Iraq has failed in the past to fully comply with OPEC + oil production cuts, exceeding its production targets since the signing of the pact in 2016 between OPEC and its allies led by Russia.
The reduction in exports resulting from the OPEC + cuts has strained Iraq’s finances, challenging a government struggling to combat the fallout from years of war and rampant corruption. Iraq depends on oil to finance 97% of its state budget.
Iraq’s economy and oil sector have been hit by years of wars, sanctions and a stubborn Islamist insurgency sparked by the American invasion. Baghdad complained that it struggled to revive its stagnant oil industry, at a time when other OPEC members benefited and increased their market share.
Iraq’s total exports averaged 2.6 million barrels per day (b / d) in August, compared to 2.763 b / d in July.
OPEC + has been reducing production since January 2017 to help support prices and reduce global oil stocks. It increased cuts to a record 9.7 million bpd from May through July after demand fell due to the coronavirus crisis.
Report by Ahmed Aboulenein; Additional reporting by Hesham Abdul Khalek; Editing by Mark Potter