Iraq’s southern oil exports rise to near record in November

Above, flames emerge from flare stacks at the oil fields in Kirkuk. The drop in Kirkuk output helped to boost Iraqi and overall compliance with the deal. (Reuters)
Updated 20 November 2017
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Iraq’s southern oil exports rise to near record in November

LONDON: Oil exports from southern Iraq have risen by 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) this month to close to a record high, according to shipping data and an industry source, as OPEC’s second-largest producer seeks to offset a shortfall from the north.
Southern Iraqi exports in the first 20 days of November averaged about 3.50 million bpd, up 150,000 bpd from October, according to shipping data tracked by Reuters and independent tracking by an industry source.
The increase follows a decline in output in northern Iraq since mid-October, when Iraqi forces took back control of fields from Kurdish fighters. Iraq has said southern exports would rise to make up the shortfall, although some in the industry were skeptical this would be possible.
“It seems they managed to get there,” the industry source who tracks Iraq’s exports said.
The rise brings southern exports within a whisker of the record high of 3.51 million bpd seen in December 2016, the last month before an output cut agreement led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries took effect.
The increase this month, though, has not entirely offset the drop in shipments from the north.
Northern exports have averaged about 250,000 bpd so far in November, according to shipping data and the industry source, down from an estimated 450,000 bpd in October and levels of more than 500,000 bpd in earlier months this year.
The drop in supplies from Iraq comes as OPEC, Russia and other producers are cutting output by about 1.8 million bpd until March 2018 in an effort to get rid of a glut and support prices.
Iraq has adhered less to the supply deal with non-OPEC producers than OPEC peers such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, but the drop in Kirkuk output helped to boost Iraqi and overall compliance with the deal.
The bulk of Iraq’s oil is exported via the southern terminals. Smaller amounts are shipped from the Kirkuk fields in northern Iraq via Ceyhan in Turkey.


Danske Bank money laundering ‘giga scandal’ spreads to Britain

Updated 21 September 2018
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Danske Bank money laundering ‘giga scandal’ spreads to Britain

  • By 2013, the number of UK-registered customers in the branch’s non-resident portfolio had topped 1,000
  • Danske Bank Chairman Ole Andersen said that the lender had made an assessment of whether it violated any US laws
LONDON/COPENHAGEN: Danske Bank’s money laundering scandal spread on Friday as Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said it is investigating the use of UK-registered companies.
“This is a giga scandal,” European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, joining a growing chorus of calls for a clampdown on the billions of euros which are alleged to have been “washed” through European banks.
An NCA spokeswoman said the British agency was working with partners across government to restrict the ability of criminals to use UK-registered companies in money laundering.
British and Russian entities dominate a list of accounts used to make €200 billion ($236 billion) in payments through Danske Bank’s branch in Estonia between 2007 and 2015, many of which the bank said this week are suspicious.
By 2013, the number of UK-registered customers in the branch’s non-resident portfolio had topped 1,000, Danske Bank’s investigation revealed, ahead of clients from Russia, the British Virgin Islands and Finland.
As the scope of the alleged money laundering through Danske Bank has widened, investor concerns over the potential penalties it could face have increased, with particular focus on what action if any US authorities might take against the bank.
So far, the US has not said whether it is investigating, although Danske Bank Chairman Ole Andersen said that the lender had made an assessment of whether it violated any US laws. He has declined to share the bank’s conclusion of this.
“We need to do more to prevent money laundering from happening,” Vestager told reporters in Copenhagen following the resignation on Wednesday of Danske Bank CEO Thomas Borgen after an investigation commissioned by the bank exposed past control and compliance failings.
Borgen, 54, was in charge of Danske Bank’s international operations including Estonia between 2009 and 2012.
He said on Wednesday that he had been “personally cleared from a legal point of view” while Danske said its board had not breached their legal obligations.
The European Commission last week recommended banking supervision changes, including bolstering national authorities, but stopped short of setting up a new financial crime agency called for by the European Central Bank.
In a sign of the growing pressure on Danske Bank, which already faces criminal inquiries in Denmark and Estonia, the chief executive of CARE Danmark said on Twitter that the Danish charity had decided to end its relationship with the lender.
International aid charity Oxfam also called on Danish municipalities to cut ties with the bank, saying it has not been able to re-establish the trust of Danish citizens.
The mayor of Aalborg, Denmark’s third largest municipality, said he would discuss its partnership with Danske Bank at the next municipality committee meeting, but noted that there were only two banks in Denmark would be able to handle a municipality its size.
“Danske Bank has been involved in money laundering which is deeply reprehensible and outrageous but Nordea has been involved in tax havens, so the entire bank sector needs to clean up for us to have a trusting collaboration with the banks,” Thomas Kastrup-Larsen said.
Danske Bank’s tiny Estonian branch accounted for as much as 10 percent of group profit during the period when suspected money laundering was conducted via its operations there.