Iraqi oil exports increased in March

April 2 (UPI) — Data show March exports from Iraq, one of OPEC’s top producers, at an average of 3.4 million barrels of oil per day were slightly higher than the previous month.

March exports totaled 107 million barrels, or an average of 3.4 million barrels per day, at a price of $59.95 per barrel. February exports were closer to 3.3 million barrels per day on average. The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, was closer to $70 per barrel early Monday.

No oil exports were counted for Kirkuk in northern Iraq. Most of the oil from the north flows out of Kurdish-controlled territory. A pipeline runs north from Kirkuk, though it was damaged so badly by Islamic State militants that parts of it need to be rebuilt.

Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi in February met in Baghdad with the regional director of Russian oil company Rosneft to discuss opportunities in the Iraqi energy sector, including efforts to overhaul a pipeline running north from Kirkuk to the Turkish port city of Ceyhan. British energy company BP has also been mentioned alongside operations in northern Iraq.

BP has a role in the supergiant Rumaila oilfield near the southern port city of Basra. In late March, Japanese energy company Itochu Corp. paid $406 million to buy the 19.6 percent stake in the West Qurna 1 oil field in southern Iraq, one of the largest in the world, from Shell’s Middle East subsidiary.

Secondary sources reporting to the economists at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said Iraq produced 4.4 million barrels per day in February, a slight decline from the previous month. Iraq is party to the OPEC-led effort to balance an oversupplied market with production cuts, but has balked at times over the terms of the agreement.

The ministry announced last week that it would be vetting new offers for 11 exploration development and rehabilitation contracts on April 15.