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Future Uncertain for Baghdad-Erbil Oil Deal


By Mohammed A. Salih for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

While a recent deal between Baghdad and Erbil to export oil from the northern fields is seen by many as a breakthrough after years of stalemate, the prospect of further progress on oil exports still remains uncertain.

On Nov. 13, Iraq’s oil minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, and Iraqi Kurdish authorities reached a deal whereby the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will export 150,000 barrels of oil per day.

In return, the Baghdad government will possibly deliver as much as $1 billion to the KRG, which has been struggling to pay its employees and fund public projects ever since the central authorities in Baghdad cut its budget in February.

The very terms of the deal, however, still remain somewhat vague. The KRG’s official website stated Nov. 13 that the federal authorities in Baghdad will pay $500 million to the Iraqi Kurdish government, and that the KRG will place “150,000 barrels a day of crude oil” at the disposal of the Iraqi government.

A day later, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil issued a statement reiterating the same information.

But during a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Nov. 21, KRG President Massoud Barzani offered new details on the amount of the payment and where the oil would come from.

“We have agreed that Baghdad will send $1 billion to [Iraqi] Kurdistan through two $500 million installments and in return we will export 150,000 barrels of oil per day from Kirkuk,” said Barzani.

His statement amounted to a bombshell as the figure he gave was higher than previously stated, and he also said the oil will come from Kirkuk’s oil fields, a detail not disclosed officially before.

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Italy’s Eni to Buy Kirkuk Crude


By John Lee.

Platts reports that Italy’s Eni has provisionally booked a tanker to load an 80,000 mt cargo of Iraqi crude from the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Market sources said that the cargo is Kirkuk crude, and would be the first such cargo from the port since Baghdad and Erbil agreed to sell 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) worth of Kurdish-produced crude through Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO) earlier this month.

Eni was not immediately available to comment.

(Source: Platts)

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Turkish Refiner to Buy Kurdish Crude via SOMO


By John Lee.

Turkish refiner Tupras is to buy crude oil from Iraq Kurdistan sold by the Baghdad’s State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO).

The company’s Deputy General Manager, Hasan Tan, told reporters the oil will be sent by pipeline to the Turkish Mediterranean port town of Ceyhan.

The announcement comes a week after Baghdad and Erbil reached a deal to settle a long-running dispute over oil-revenue.

(Source: Reuters)

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Iraq Reviews Oil Prices


By John Lee.

Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO) has adjusted its official selling prices for its Basra Light and Kirkuk crude grades for December.

In common with some other countries, Iraq’s oil is priced relative to regional benchmark prices:

  • For shipments to US, contracts are priced are relative to the Argus Sour Crude Index (ASCI);
  • Shipments to Europe are priced relative to the North Sea Spot BFOE (Brent benchmark); and
  • Asian shipmentas are priced relative to the Dubai-Oman crude benchmark, published by Platts, the energy-information division of McGraw-Hill.

The new prices to Europe are as follows:

  • Basra Light to Europe will sell at a discount of $4.45 a barrel to Dated Brent, compared to a discount of $5.40 previously.

And to the US:

  • Basrah Light will sell at a discount of 10 cents to the U.S. benchmark, down 50 cents on the previous month.
  • Kirkuk will sell at a premium of $1.75, down from a premium of $2.00 last month.

To Asia:

  • Basrah Light to Asia will sell at a discount of $2.50 to the benchmark, up from a discount of $3.15 last month.

(Sources: Bloomberg, WSJ)

(Oil image via Shutterstock)

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PM Barzani “Will Not hand Control to SOMO”


Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani talked to the press following yesterday’s Parliament session hosting the Kurdistan Region Oil and Gas Council.

Prime Minister Barzani said the Region would not hand oil control to the Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organisation, SOMO. He noted the federal government cannot export oil from Kirkuk without involving the Kurdistan Region.

He said, “We wish to settle all outstanding issues with Baghdad. However, if we do not reach agreement, the Kurdistan Regional Government has other solutions.” The Prime Minister also affirmed that trading with the ISIS terrorist organisation is national betrayal.

He informed the press, “When the Iraqi Government stopped Kurdistan Region’s budget we were not exporting oil and their decision was unilateral. The Kurdistan Region seeks a mechanism where such situations would not reoccur”.

Prime Minister Barzani reiterated that Baghdad has not provided funds for the salaries of the Region’s civil servants since January. He said, “With the policies we have adopted, we have so far managed to pay salaries to some extent.”

He hoped the KRG could soon overcome this situation so the issue of salaries would no longer make headlines. He expressed confidence the KRG would reach that level.

Deputy Prime Minister Talabani informed the press that the United States, Britain, and the United Nations are concerned about the situation and they are exerting pressure on the Iraqi Government to honour the promises they made to the Kurdistan Region during the government formation process.

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No SOMO Office for Erbil


By John Lee.

Nechirvan Barzani (pictured), Iraqi Kurdistan’s Prime Minister, has denied reports that Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) will open an office in Erbil.

Kurdish MP, Dilshad Sha’ban, has also told BasNews:

“After we heard reports of SOMO wants to open office in Kurdistan region, we followed on the report, and we found out is not true.”

(Source: BasNews)

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Basra Light Crude may Split into 2 Grades


By John Lee.

The Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) has proposed splitting its Basra Light crude supply into two grades.

Reuters cites trade sources as saying that SOMO and has requested feedback on the proposal by the end of the week from buyers in Asia.

Iraq now plans to offer two grades of crude for exports from its southern terminals: “light” with an API gravity of 29 degrees, and “heavy” with an API gravity of 24-25 degrees.

SOMO would set monthly official selling prices (OSPs) for each grade.

(Source: Reuters)

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Iraq Bans KRG Tankers


By John Lee.

Platts reports that Iraq has banned three oil tankers from loading at its oil terminals.

in response to direct exports of crude by the Kurdistan Regional Government over the objections of Baghdad, shipping market sources said Friday.

The United Carrier (pictured), the United Dynamic and the Nautilus have previously transported crude on behalf of the KRG. The United Dynamic and the United Carrier are managed by Greece-based Marine Management Services (MMS).

A document from Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) gave no reason for the ban, but a chartering source told the news agency:

Ships that loaded Kurdish crude have been blacklisted by Iraq …

“Maybe they [shipping companies] are getting a high premium [for loading Kurdish] crude and their activity is not reported.”

(Source: Platts)

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