ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer al-Ghadhban said on Wednesday that oil exports from the disputed province of Kirkuk to Turkey will remain at roughly 80,000 – 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) because most of the oil output is being used to feed domestic refineries in northern parts of the country.
Kirkuk oil fields are currently producing about 370,000 bpd, head of state-run North Oil Company Farid al-Jadir told reporters in a press conference with Ghadhban on Wednesday.
Jadir stated that a British Petroleum (BP) team is now operating in the oil-rich province and would prepare a study reviewing plans to boost crude output by the end of 2019.
“BP is currently working with the North Oil Company on preparing a technical study that will completely reevaluate Kirkuk production capacity and how to increase it,” he said, as quoted by Reuters.
“They are currently on the ground and we expect to present the final study before the end of next year before reaching an agreement with the company.”
Kirkuk has one of the oldest and most extensive oilfields in the Middle East, estimated to have 9 billion barrels of recoverable oil as well as substantial gas reserves. The province is one of the disputed territories claimed by both the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government of Iraq.
Ghadhban noted that Iraqi officials were in the final stages of talks with Exxon and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) about a large energy project in the south of Iraq. He said he could not predict the exact date it would be finalized, only that he was "optimistic" about reaching an initial agreement in the near future.
Such a deal with oil giants Exxon and CNPC would help Iraq to increase loading capacity from its oil export terminals to 6.5 million bpd, the minister said.
On Sunday, Ghadhban announced that he that was expecting “an improvement” in potential oil prices at the beginning of 2019 after members and non-members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) recently decided to decrease oil production.
“We are optimistic that the current fall in prices will stop because there is no more oversupply in the market,” he said at a meeting of OPEC in Kuwait,
Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest oil producer following Saudi Arabia, almost entirely relies on oil to generate its revenue. Over the past few years, the country has faced budget deficits due to the market’s unstable oil prices.
Editing by John J. Catherine