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

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.


Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

Updated 28 May 2020

Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

  • The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament approved on Thursday a law to remove decades-old banking secrecy rules in order to better fight rampant corruption that has pushed the country to the edge of economic collapse.
The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers, legislators and civil servants, state-run National News Agency reported.
The restoration of stolen public money in the corruption-plagued nation has been a key demand of protesters who have been demonstrating since mid-October against Lebanon’s ruling elite, which they blame for widespread corruption and mismanagement.
The approval of the law came two months after the Cabinet approved a draft resolution to abolish the country’s banking secrecy laws, which have turned tiny Lebanon into the region’s Switzerland, attracting clients from around the Arab world who prized the anonymity its banks offered.
The new law gives powers to National Anti-corruption Commission and a Special Investigative Committee at the central bank to investigate bank account of officials, the report said.
For Thursday’s session, Lebanese lawmakers convened inside a Beirut theater so that they could observe social distancing measures imposed during the pandemic. Dozens of anti-government demonstrators briefly clashed with riot police outside as legislators met.
As lawmakers in face masks arrived at the theater, known as the UNESCO palace, paramedics sprayed them with disinfectant before they entered, one at a time.
Lebanon has been facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with unemployment figures soaring and the local currency losing more than half of its value against the dollar.
After the banking secrecy measure was passed, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri suspended the session until later in the afternoon when the legislators were to discuss a draft general amnesty law.
The amnesty issue has deeply divided parliamentary blocs, with Christian groups calling for pardoning Lebanese who fled to Israel after it ended its occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, while former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and others want the release of hundreds of Islamists held as terror suspects.
Lebanon and Israel are at a state of war and some Lebanese who fled to Israel now hold Israeli citizenship. Scores of protesters demonstrated in Beirut and southern Lebanon on Thursday against pardoning those living in Israel.