(Adds Iraq says oil output capacity to reach 5 million bpd)
By Ahmed Rasheed
BAGHDAD, April 2 Iraq has assured OPEC it will
fully comply with an agreement to cut oil supply in order to
bolster crude prices, OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo
said on Sunday in Baghdad.
Iraq's compliance stands now at 98 percent, the nation's oil
minister Jabar al-Luaibi told reporters, after addressing a
conference in the Iraqi capital, also attended by Barkindo.
Compliance with the deal agreed by OPEC and non-OPEC
producers at the end of last year to cut supply is
"encouraging," Barkindo told the forum.
General compliance with supply cuts by the oil producers was
86 percent in January and 94 percent in February, he added.
The market is already balancing, Barkindo said, adding
stocks of crude were coming down.
Luaibi said he was satisfied with the existing deal, but
declined to say whether Iraq would support an extension, leaving
it to an OPEC ministerial meeting planned in May.
The current deal, he said, "contains many positive elements
and achieved a lot of targets; work is ongoing to reach the
reduction of 1.8" million barrels per day (bpd) agreed by OPEC
and 11 other nations including Russia for their combined
production in the first half of 2017.
The accord has lifted crude to about $50 a barrel. But the
price gain has also encouraged U.S. shale oil producers, which
are not part of the pact, to boost output.
While Iraq is committed to achieving 100 percent of its
target reduction, it will proceed with projects to boost oil
production capacity to 5 million barrels per day, Luaibi said.
OPEC's second-largest producer, after Saudi Arabia, Iraq
will proceed in parallel with exploration plans to increase its
reserves by 15 billion barrels in 2018, to reach 178 billion
barrels, he said.
Among the plans to increase output capacity from existing
fields is a sea water injection plan which is in process of
being tendered, he added.
Iraq's oil production has averaged 4.464 million barrels per
day (bpd) so far in March, a reduction of more than 300,000 bpd
on levels before OPEC cuts were implemented from Jan. 1,
state-oil marketer SOMO said on Thursday.
Average crude exports were 3.756 million bpd in March,
versus a record of more than 4 million bpd in November,
according to SOMO.
Barkindo described as "very constructive" meetings he had on
Saturday with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other Iraqi
leaders in Baghdad.
(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Maher Chmaytelli;
Editing by Susan Thomas and Mark Potter)