Iraq's Kirkuk Crude Oil Exports to Fall in February

Source: Reuters 1/22/2013, Location: Middle East

The February 2013 loading programme for Iraq's medium sour Kirkuk crude oil is expected to be around 296,000 barrels per day (bpd) as the absence of crude from Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region is felt, a preliminary programme from a shipping source showed.

The volume is around 80,000 bpd below the initial January 2013 programme, which was pegged at 376,000 bpd. The Kurdish region pulled the plug on its contribution to exports around mid-December and loading delays have since accumulated to around 20 days.

The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and the central government in Baghdad have been locked in a lengthy dispute over oil payments to producers in the Kurdish area.

The dispute was further aggravated at the start of January 2013 with the beginning of independent crude oil exports by the KRG via truck to Turkey, a blow to Baghdad's claim to full control over Iraqi oil.

This is not the first time the KRG has halted crude shipments through the state-owned pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Exports hit a multi-year low last summer, when the August 2012 programme was just under 200,000 bpd and loading delays also reached around 20 days.

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