Iraq’s southern oil exports approach record high

Oil exports from southern Iraq are heading for a record high this month, two industry sources said. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 September 2018
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Iraq’s southern oil exports approach record high

  • Southern Iraqi exports in the first 19 days of September averaged 3.6 million barrels per day
  • The increase follows June’s pact among OPEC and allied producers to boost supply after they had curbed output since 2017 to remove a glut

LONDON: Oil exports from southern Iraq are heading for a record high this month, two industry sources said, adding to signs that OPEC’s second-largest producer is following through on a deal to raise supply and local unrest is not affecting shipments.
Southern Iraqi exports in the first 19 days of September averaged 3.6 million barrels per day, according to ship-tracking data compiled by an industry source, up 20,000 bpd from August’s 3.58 million bpd — the existing monthly record.
The increase follows June’s pact among OPEC and allied producers to boost supply after they had curbed output since 2017 to remove a glut. Iraq in August provided OPEC’s second-largest increase as shipments drop from Iran, which is facing renewed US sanctions.
A second industry source who tracks shipments also said exports this month had averaged 3.6 million bpd, reflecting smooth operations at export terminals and no sign that unrest in Basra, Iraq’s second city, was disrupting flows.
“There were fears that the protests would get to the terminal,” this source said. “But so far, there is no impact.”
Protests in Basra against Iraq’s political elite erupted in July. In early September, Basra airport was attacked with rockets a6nd protesters briefly took oilfield workers hostage.
Before the June OPEC deal, Iraq had been boosting exports from southern terminals to offset a halt in shipments from the northern Kirkuk region last October after Iraqi forces seized control of oilfields there from Kurdish fighters.
Northern exports have held steady in September, averaging around 400,000 bpd so far, according to shipping data and one of the industry sources. This is up from about 300,000 bpd in July but short of levels above 500,000 bpd in some months of 2017.
On June 22-23, OPEC, Russia and other non-members agreed to return to 100 percent compliance with output cuts that began in January 2017. That amounted to an increase of about 1 million bpd, according to OPEC’s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia.
A group of OPEC and non-OPEC ministers and officials monitoring the agreement are meeting on Sunday in Algeria and will discuss proposals on how to divide the increase, sources have told Reuters.
Iraq has said it is ready to boost output and in August pumped an extra 90,000 bpd, OPEC’s second-largest increase after Libya, according to analyst and oil-industry media estimates compiled by OPEC. Iraq itself said production in August was steady.


Apple phones still sold in China despite ban

Updated 28 min 30 sec ago
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Apple phones still sold in China despite ban

  • Apple has recently been overtaken by other competitors in China
  • Apple's high prices leave their products out of reach for many users

BEIJING, China: Apple stores in China continued with business as usual Tuesday despite a court-ordered ban on iPhone sales, but the US tech giant faces a growing nationalist backlash over the US-sought arrest of a Huawei executive.
According to US chipmaker Qualcomm, which requested the ban, the Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court ordered four Apple subsidiaries to stop selling older models of the iPhone, including the 7, 7 Plus, 8, and 8 Plus.
But Apple stores contacted by AFP in Beijing, Shanghai and Fuzhou said they were still selling those older models — confirming a company statement that all remain available.
Sales staff at a Beijing Apple store said they had not yet received any internal notices about the court injunction on iPhone sales.
“If the ban is ultimately imposed, there will be no Apple products under 6,500 yuan ($940) in China,” noted Wang Xi, a senior market analyst at research firm IDC.
That would give Chinese smartphone brands, such as Huawei, “more opportunities in the high-end market,” he told AFP.
Qualcomm’s request to halt iPhone sales is part of a long-running patent dispute with Apple.
Separately, Apple is also the target of nationalist sentiment over the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer in Canada at the behest of the United States on alleged Iran sanctions violations.
The Chinese government has condemned the arrest and demanded her release.
Some Chinese netizens and companies have also turned against Apple.
“What if China banned Apple the way the US has banned Huawei?” wrote one user on Twitter-like Weibo in a post that garnered more than 500 likes. “What if Apple lost its manufacturing center in China?“
Leaked company documents announcing rewards for Huawei purchases and penalties for owning Apple products are also circulating on Chinese social media.
A tech firm based in southwestern China, Chengdu RYD Information Technology, said it would reward employees who bought Huawei products with subsidies in an internal notice that it later confirmed via its official WeChat account.
The Shanghai Nanchong Chamber of Commerce confirmed that it too was offering subsidies for Huawei smartphones, and that staff and executive members of the business group would “lose their positions” if found with Apple products.
It seems that “general sentiment is gradually turning to against Apple and support Huawei now,” due to recent events, such as Meng’s arrest and the US-China trade war, said Wang.
China is a crucial market for Apple, but is has been overtaken by Chinese competitors in recent years.
According to a 2018 financial report, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were together Apple’s third largest market by net sales, after the Americas and Europe.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook has also made regular visits to China, and has touted the company’s inroads in the Chinese market as well as its manufacturing there.
But Apple’s premium-priced products remain out of reach for many users, increasing the appeal of more affordable phones produced by local companies.
Apple has the fifth largest market share in China, trailing behind Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi, according to data from IDC.
Qualcomm, the leading supplier of chips for mobile devices, serves several Apple competitors in China, including Huawei, and has been in a prolonged legal battle with Apple in recent years.
Apple has claimed that Qualcomm is abusing its market power over certain mobile chipsets in order to demand unfair royalties, joining a string of antitrust actions against the chipmaker.
Qualcomm has countersued Apple and earlier this year escalated its legal fight, claiming the iPhone maker stole trade secrets and shared them with mobile chip rival Intel.
According to Qualcomm’s US lawsuit, Apple’s goal was to buy mobile chips from Intel instead of depending on Qualcomm.
An Apple statement to AFP called Qualcomm’s effort to ban iPhone sales in China a “desperate move by a company whose illegal practices are under investigation by regulators around the world,” and added that “we will pursue all our legal options through the courts.”