Iraq is pumping crude at record levels and the violent street protests that engulfed the oil-rich nation have not affected energy facilities in OPEC’s second-biggest producer.
The country’s crude exports reached a record of 3.59 million barrels a day, Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi said after a meeting with representatives of foreign oil companies working in Iraq. Iraq is producing crude at a level of about 4.36 million barrels a day, as agreed with limits set by OPEC, and has a capacity to pump about 4.75 million barrels, without the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in the north, he said.
Iraq boosted protection in the south region of the country after protesters demanding jobs and basic services torched government buildings and the Iranian consulate in the southern city of Basra. A number of them briefly forced their way into a water intake facility that supplies an oil field.
Iraq has been working to raise crude production quickly, amid investment constraints and hold-ups that have seen Royal Dutch Shell Plc exit one of the country’s biggest oil projects.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies agreed in June to increase oil production, with Saudi Arabia and Russia saying about 1 million barrels a day will be added to the market. But they didn’t detail how the production increase would be split between OPEC and non-OPEC nations. A committee of OPEC and its allies is scheduled to meet in Algeria later this month to discuss allocations.
Iraq which declared all regions free from the militant group last year after fighting that erupted in 2014, has ambitious goals to end its reliance on refined-fuel imports.
The country’s refining capacity is currently at more than 700,000 barrels a day following the Salahuddin-2 unit restart, Deputy Oil Minister Fayyad Al-Nima said at a news conference in Baghdad. Refining capacity is due to reach 800,000 barrels a day after the Salahuddin-1 unit in Baiji restarts at the end of the year or early next year, he said.