ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi government will build a refinery in the disputed province of Kirkuk with a capacity of 150,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said on Monday.
“The ministry has put the final touches on building an investment refinery in Kirkuk with a capacity of 150,000 barrels per day and according to the latest international standards,” Ghadhban said during a visit to the province, according to Reuters.
Exports from oil fields in Kirkuk province to Turkey’s Ceyhan port rose to 99,000 bpd in March, from 63,000 bpd the month before, according to the ministry’s statement.
The disputed province of Kirkuk has some of the oldest and largest oilfields in the Middle East.
Since 2014, Kirkuk’s oil was exported through the autonomous Kurdistan Region to Turkey. However, the shipment was halted after the military takeover by Iraqi forces and Shia militias in the province on Oct. 16, 2017.
On Nov. 16, 2018, the Federal Government of Iraq restarted exports of Kirkuk oil to Turkey through the Kurdistan Region’s oil pipeline at a rate of around 50,000 bpd.
From the beginning of April until now, Iraq on average has exported 3.25 million bpd from southern ports, two sources from the ministry told Reuters.
In March, Iraq’s oil exports averaged 3.37 million bpd, down from 3.62 million bpd in February, as bad weather disrupted the loading.
Iraq is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) second-largest producer just after Saudi Arabia and currently has an output below its maximum capacity of nearly five million bpd.
In early January, Baghdad reaffirmed its commitment to cut annual oil production as per an agreement between OPEC and additional non-member states such as Russia – known together as OPEC+ – to curtail global supply and bolster prices.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany