Iraq capable of increasing oil production to meet market demand: minister

Iraqi Oil Minister Thamir al-Ghadhban on Thursday said that Iraq has the capacity to increase its crude oil production to meet the market shortfall, but it is committed to the oil production cuts stated by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

“We have a huge capacity to increase our oil production, but it is important to keep the market stable and remove the surplus of oil in the market,” al-Ghadhban said at a joint press conference with Fatih Birol, executive director of International Energy Agency who is on an official visit to Baghdad.

Al-Ghadhban said that Iraq would continue to monitor the world oil market to assess any need to increase its oil production in coordination with fellow OPEC members it its meeting due in June.

“Iraq does not take unilateral decisions,” al-Ghadhban said, adding that Iraq is “very keen to secure oil supplies for consumers and to maintain market stability.”

For his part, Birol said that Iraq is expected to produce nearly 6 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2030, which would make the country the world’s third biggest oil supplier.

“Iraq will remain a key pillar in the oil market during the coming years,” he said, asserting that Iraq has managed to increase its oil production by 50 percent since 2012, despite the low oil prices for several years and the destruction made by the Islamic State group.

Birol’s visit came amid oil supply concerns after the United States decided not to renew exemptions from sanctions against Iran granted last year for buyers of Iranian crude oil.

As for the impacts of the U.S. latest decision on Iraq, al-Ghadhban told reporters that “there is no need for fear or panic, as we have huge capacities to increase oil production but we will give priority for market stability and removing oil oversupply.”

Earlier in the month, the Iraqi Oil Ministry said it had exported about 3.38 million bpd of oil during March.

Iraq’s economy heavily relies on exports of crude oil, which accounts for more than 90 percent of the country’s revenues.