Iraq nears oil output capacity, committed to OPEC cuts

Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar Al-Luaibi. (Reuters)
Updated 14 January 2018
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Iraq nears oil output capacity, committed to OPEC cuts

ABU DHABI: Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar Al-Luaibi said on Saturday that the OPEC member’s oil output capacity is nearing 5 million barrels per day, but the country will remain in full compliance with its output target under a global pact to cut supplies.
Al-Luaibi said the supply cut agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC producers should continue despite a rise in oil prices.
“The market now is not 100 percent stable,” he said at an industry conference in Abu Dhabi, adding that current oil prices could be sustained, but there might be some fluctuations.
For the week, Brent crude rose 3.3 percent, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude jumped 4.7 percent, having hit its strongest since late 2014 at $64.77 on Thursday.
The deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia to cut 1.8 million barrels per day of crude, which started in January 2017, is due to last until the end of 2018.
Al-Luaibi said Iraq’s current oil production is about 4.3 million barrels per day.
Despite the increase in oil production from the US, “so far there is a balance” in the oil market, Al-Luaibi said.
“We are watching the market and the market is okay in terms of supply and demand balance. There’s still a gap, inventories are still high. The inventory level will decrease gradually and we will see how things will go,” he told reporters.
Al-Luaibi also said that his ministry plans to conclude three contracts with international gas companies by mid-2018 to utilize gas from Basra, Maysan and Nassiriyah southern provinces.
He said that by 2021, the country plans to “reach zero gas flaring.”
Iraq is forced to flare some of the gas produced alongside crude oil as it lacks the facilities needed to capture and process it into usable fuel.
The country has just one gas processing company, the Basrah Gas Company, a joint venture between Iraq’s state-run South Gas Co., Shell and Mitsubishi.
OPEC’s second-largest crude producer after Saudi Arabia, Iraq is seeking to increase its oil and gas income, which account for nearly all its public budget.


Egypt stock market plunges as retail investors take flight

Updated 19 September 2018
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Egypt stock market plunges as retail investors take flight

  • Biggest index drop in Egypt since mid-2016
  • Saudi Arabia outperforms in Gulf

LONDON: Egyptian stocks tumbled to their lowest level this year on Wednesday as retail investors took flight.
A sharp rise in Suez Canal revenues, a major foreign exchange earner for the country, was not enough to quell investors concerns about the strength of the currency.
The main Egyptian stock index lost 3.8 percent which some fund managers blamed on generally negative sentiment toward emerging markets worldwide as well as more local speculation about possible currency devaluation.
“Our channel checks suggest the sell-off in the Egyptian market is local retail and institutions driven, on currency fears and speculation over a further round of devaluation,” said Vrajesh Bhandari, portfolio manager at Al Mal in Dubai, Reuters reported.
“Selling is further intensified as margin calls are triggered and technical support levels break down. The country canceled three consecutive Treasury auctions, citing investors’ unrealistic yield demands.”
Egypt’s Suez Canal revenues rose to $502.2 million in August up 6.7 percent from a year earlier according to official data released on Wednesday.
Elsewhere regional stock markets closed mostly lower with the exceptions of Abu Dhabi which edged 0.2 percent higher and Saudi Arabia, the best regional performer, which rose by 1.1 percent.
Saudi stocks are benefiting from the strong oil price which eased slightly yesterday but still hovered just under $79.
OPEC and some other oil producers including Russia will meet in Algeria on Sept. 23 to discuss how to allocate supply increases within their quota framework to offset the loss of oil exports from Iran following the introduction of sanctions by the US.
Those measures will come into force on Nov. 4 and data suggests that buyers are already retreating from Iranian crude purchases.
A key question for the oil price as well as regional stock markets in the weeks ahead will be the extent to which other Gulf oil exporters can compenaste for the loss of Iranian supplies by pumping more.