Iraq shipped 2.02 million bpd from the southern oil hub of Basra, down from 2.194 million bpd in November, said Abdul-Ilah Qasim, an energy adviser to the Iraqi government.
“Bad weather in December and technical issues with the single point moorings in the Gulf contributed to the fall of exports from the southern ports,” Qasim told Reuters.
OPEC member Iraq ships most of its oil through the south, with exports climbing to post-war higher records helped by the addition of two new offshore terminals last year.
A rise in Iraqi exports has helped offset the impact on global oil prices from Western sanctions on Iran’s crude exports.
“A high sea tide of more than 2 meters could force to stop loading operations at the single point moorings, and that is what happened over December,” Qasim said.
Lowered oil shipments from autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan in December also pushed down total average exports, after Baghdad said the Kurdistan Regional Government failed to fully implement an agreement reached October last year over exports.
“December average of crude shipments from the Iraqi Kurdistan fell to only 23,000 barrels per day, from average of 180,000 bpd in November, and this caused national monthly exports to fall,” Qasim said.
Iraq received on December 30, for example, a crude shipment of only 3,000 barrels from Kurdistan, Qasim said.
Iraq said last month it will not pay oil companies operating in Kurdistan because the region has failed to export the volume of crude it pledged under their deal.
Tension appeared to ease in September, when Kurdistan and Baghdad struck an accord under which the region agreed to continue pumping its share of national oil exports in return for payment from the central government.
Under the agreement, an export target of 200,000 bpd has been set for the last two months of 2012, and Kurdish authorities pledged to raise exports to 250,000 bpd in 2013.
Following that agreement, Baghdad transferred an initial sum of 650 billion Iraqi dinars ($560 million) to the Kurdistan regional government (KRG). But a second payment is still pending for the foreign companies in Kurdistan.