Iraq’s southern oil exports fall for third month in March-sources

An Iraqi oil employee checks pipelines at the Bai Hassan oil field, west of the multi-ethnic northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP)
Updated 23 March 2018
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Iraq’s southern oil exports fall for third month in March-sources

LONDON: Oil exports from southern Iraq have fallen by 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) this month, according to shipping data and an industry source, suggesting OPEC’s second-largest producer is heading for a third month of lower shipments.
Southern Iraqi exports in the first 21 days of March averaged about 3.36 million bpd, compared to 3.43 million bpd in February, shipping data followed by Reuters and independent tracking by an industry source showed.
The fall suggests there is still no sign of extra supplies reaching the market from Iraq even though oil prices rallied this year to $71 a barrel for the first time since 2014, supported by an OPEC-led agreement to cut output.
Iraq says it is committed to the OPEC deal.
“We are seeing lower volumes,” the source who tracks Iraq’s exports said.
Southern shipments have fallen as one of the single point loadings used to fill tankers was under maintenance for part of March because of a leak, a shipping agent said. Also, loadings have dropped at the small port of Khor Al-Amaya.
Iraq had been boosting exports from its southern terminals, which handle the bulk of such trade, to offset a halt in shipments from its northern Kirkuk oilfields in October after Iraqi forces seized control of fields from Kurdish fighters.
Northern exports have averaged 270,000 bpd so far in March, compared with an estimated 340,000 bpd in February, according to shipping data and the industry source. That is far below levels of more than 500,000 bpd in some months of 2017.
Iraqi oil officials say there are no plans to resume oil flow through the Kurdish-owned pipeline, as no agreement has been reached yet.
Northern exports could rise if Iraq goes ahead with a plan to export Kirkuk oil by truck to Iran, but this has been delayed.
Based on loadings so far, total exports in March have averaged 3.63 million bpd, down from 3.77 million bpd in February, 3.81 million bpd in January and 3.84 million bpd in December, according to Iraqi figures and loading data. Southern shipments reached a record in December.
OPEC, Russia and other producers are cutting output by about 1.8 million bpd until the end of 2018 in an effort to get rid of a global crude glut and support prices.
Iraq complied less with the supply deal than its OPEC peers, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, for much of 2017, but the drop in Kirkuk output boosted Iraqi and overall compliance.


Lebanon president: negative rumors about the economy harm country

Updated 19 September 2018
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Lebanon president: negative rumors about the economy harm country

  • Lebanon has been without a government for four months since a national election
  • “The Lebanese pound is not in danger and Lebanon is not on the road to bankruptcy," Aoun said

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s currency is not in danger and rumors about the economy are causing harm, President Michel Aoun said on Wednesday, amid concern that a political deadlock has blocked urgent reforms and left the heavily indebted country vulnerable.
Lebanon has been without a government for four months since a national election. The central bank has issued repeated assurances about the soundness of the Lebanese pound’s peg to the dollar and the size of its foreign currency reserves, in response to speculation over the currency’s future.
“The Lebanese pound is not in danger and Lebanon is not on the road to bankruptcy. The economic situation is difficult but the things being spread as rumors are harming Lebanon,” Aoun said, in comments published by his office.
“We do not deny that there is a crisis,” Aoun said, but added that the country was working to address it.
Lebanon had the world’s third highest debt-to-GDP ratio, at over 150 percent, at the end of 2017. The International Monetary Fund wants to see immediate and substantial fiscal adjustment to improve debt sustainability.
The failure of politicians to form a government needed to undertake the necessary reforms following the parliamentary election in May has added to concern for the economy.
Leaders from across the political spectrum have in recent months said the political stalemate is harming the economy and a government needs to be formed. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri this month said the country was in “intensive care” and the economic situation was “very dangerous.”
While politicians have stopped short of saying the peg is in danger, some economic analysts abroad have been considering the possibility of a devaluation.
“Lebanon’s ongoing political stalemate has renewed market concerns over the country’s frail balance sheets which could propel the government to devalue the Lebanese Pound ... Under this scenario, the authorities would find it increasingly challenging to service their large foreign currency debts,” Japan’s MUFG Bank said in a report on Wednesday.