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Iraqi Plan To Increase Oil Exports Helps Drive Down Crude Prices

Oil prices fell on August 22 after Iraq reported plans to increase crude exports by about 5 percent in the next few days after resuming shipments from three northern oil fields.

Officials in Kirkuk, Iraq's northern oil center, told Bloomberg News that shipments will increase by about 150,000 barrels a day as exports resume from the Baba Gorgor, Jambour, and Khabbaz fields.

The three oil fields are operated by the state-run Northern Oil Company, but their export pipeline is controlled by the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government.

The company had halted exports from those fields in March due to a payment dispute with the Kurdish government. But Iraq’s new oil minister, Jabbar al-Luaibi, last week said he would resolve the dispute, and Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi ordered the oil ministry to resume oil pumping into the pipeline.

Iraq has struggled to boost oil exports this year to compensate for a drop in oil prices that has sapped government revenues. Iraq’s exports reached 3.71 million barrels a day in July, the International Energy Agency reported.

Iraq's planned export increase helped drive premium crude prices down $1.72 to $49.16 a barrel in London on August 22.

Based on reporting by Bloomberg, AFP, and Reuters