Iraq Oil Revival Stalls Again as Violence Pinches Growth: Energy

From Bloomberg

By Grant Smith and Nayla Razzouk

The revival in Iraqi oil output has stalled. Again.

Production forecasts for 2014 are getting less optimistic. The Oil Ministry’s official target is 4 million barrels a day by the end of the year. More likely it will be 3.75 million, Thamir Ghadhban, an adviser to the prime minister, said in an interview May 14. Or perhaps 3.4 million, about the same as last month, according to the average of six analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg News.

Violence and conflict are pinching growth for OPEC’s second-biggest member. While Iraq added about 2 million barrels to daily production since 2003, the year of Saddam Hussein’s ouster, attacks on pipelines and an oil-revenue dispute with the semi-autonomous Kurdish region are diminishing the country’s dependability as a supplier. They’re also contributing to making oil more expensive, VTB Capital said.

“Iraq always seems to be the producer of the future,” Mike Wittner, head of oil market research at Societe Generale SA in New York, said by phone May 13. “The entire world has been upbeat on Iraq’s prospects for the last couple of years. But it’s not steady growth. They have to get the security situation sorted out, or that’s going to continue to hamper them.”

Iraq’s exports to Europe have been curbed since early March because of sabotage on its northern pipeline to Turkey. New supplies from the Kurdish region are mostly halted because of the dispute with the central government. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki may need to form a broad coalition to remain in power after last month’s parliamentary elections, potentially slowing oil-policy decisions.

Global Benchmark

Brent crude, a global benchmark, is trading above $100 a barrel for a 23rd consecutive month, the longest stretch in data starting in 1988. Prices will average more than $100 this year and in each of the next three years, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. It traded at $109.90 a barrel at 1:34 p.m. in London.

Iraq’s production contracted 7 percent since reaching a 35-year peak of 3.6 million barrels a day in February, according to the International Energy Agency. The Basrah Oil Terminal in southern Iraq is scheduled to load 2.5 million barrels a day of crude for export this month and 2.7 million in June, according to loading programs obtained by Bloomberg News.

Shipments from the south, the only region exporting regularly, will probably stall at about 2.5 million barrels a day, unless work on storage tanks, pumping stations and other infrastructure is completed, the Paris-based IEA said in a report May 15.

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