Iraq has pledged to comply with oil cut deal: OPEC chief

OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo. (AFP)
Updated 03 April 2017
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Iraq has pledged to comply with oil cut deal: OPEC chief

BAGHDAD: Iraq has assured the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) it will fully comply with an agreement to cut oil supply in order to bolster crude prices, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo said on Sunday in Baghdad.
Iraq’s compliance stands now at 98 percent, the nation’s Oil Minister Jabar Al-Luaibi told reporters, after addressing a conference in the Iraqi capital, also attended by Barkindo.
Compliance with the deal agreed by OPEC and non-OPEC producers at the end of the last year to cut supply is “encouraging,” Barkindo told the forum.
General compliance with supply cuts by the oil producers was 86 percent in January and 94 percent in February, he added.
The market is already balancing, Barkindo said, adding stocks of crude were coming down.
Al-Luaibi said he was satisfied with the existing deal, but declined to say whether Iraq would support an extension, leaving it to an OPEC ministerial meeting planned in May.
The current deal, he said, “contains many positive elements and achieved a lot of targets; work is ongoing to reach the reduction of 1.8 million barrels per day” (bpd) agreed by OPEC and 11 other nations including Russia for their combined production in the first half of 2017.
The accord has lifted crude to about $50 a barrel. But the price gain has also encouraged US shale oil producers, which are not part of the pact, to boost output.
While Iraq is committed to achieving 100 percent of its target reduction, it will proceed with projects to boost oil production capacity to 5 million bpd before the end of the year, Al-Luaibi said.
OPEC’s second-largest producer, after Saudi Arabia, Iraq will proceed in parallel with exploration plans to increase its reserves by 15 billion barrels in 2018, to reach 178 billion barrels, he said.
Among the plans to increase output capacity from existing fields is a seawater injection plan, which is in process of being tendered, he added.
Iraq’s oil production has averaged 4.464 million bpd so far in March, a reduction of more than 300,000 bpd on levels before OPEC cuts were implemented from Jan. 1, the State Organization for Marketing of Oil (SOMO) said on Thursday.
Average crude exports were 3.756 million bpd in March, versus a record of more than 4 million bpd in November, according to SOMO.
Most of Iraq’s crude is exported from southern ports, the region where it is produced. Exports from the south averaged 3.2 million bpd in March, Al-Luaibi said.
Barkindo described as “very constructive” meetings he had on Saturday with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and other Iraqi leaders in Baghdad.
Iraq’s natural gas output will triple to 1,700 million cubic feet per day (cfd) by 2018, as it implements projects to reduce flaring, Al-Luaibi told the conference.


Uber agrees to pay VAT in Egypt

Updated 5 min 4 sec ago
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Uber agrees to pay VAT in Egypt

  • Egypt introduced a law last May regulating ride-hailing apps Uber and Careem
  • Uber has said that Egypt is its largest market in the Middle East
CAIRO: Uber has agreed to pay value-added tax on its services in Egypt, Egyptian officials said on Monday, a move that may help resolve a long-simmering feud with traditional taxi drivers.
The agreement would also apply to other ride-hailing companies, the head of the Egyptian Tax Authority, Abdel Azeem Hussein, said. Egypt’s value-added tax (VAT) rate is 14 percent.
“Reaching an agreement and determining the tax treatment that will be applied to the company Uber and other companies operating in the same area will enhance confidence and cooperation between the authority and the tax community,” state news agency MENA quoted Hussein as saying.
Uber Egypt was not immediately available for comment.
Egypt introduced a law last May regulating ride-hailing apps Uber and Careem, after Egyptian taxi drivers filed a lawsuit arguing that the two companies were illegally using private cars as taxis and were registered as a call center and an Internet company, respectively.
An Egyptian court suspended Uber and Careem’s services in March last year after the taxi drivers’ suit but another court stayed the suspension ruling in April, allowing the companies to operate while the case was appealed to a higher court. A verdict is expected on Saturday.
Careem could not immediately be reached for comment on whether it will pay the VAT.
Uber riders and drivers in Egypt have said they faced various technical difficulties with the Uber app in recent weeks, which two security sources said was linked to data-sharing disputes with Egyptian authorities.
Uber has faced regulatory and legal setbacks around the world amid opposition from traditional taxi services. It has been forced to quit several countries, including Denmark and Hungary.
Uber has said that Egypt is its largest market in the Middle East, with 157,000 drivers in 2017 and 4 million users since its launch there in 2014.