Iraq will cooperate with any production-cutting decisions: Oil minister

Iraq’s oil minister said his country was ready to accept a decision by OPEC and non-OPEC members to cut crude production

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Iraq’s oil minister said on Saturday his country was ready to accept a decision by OPEC and non-OPEC members to cut crude production and was preparing to revive its national oil company, moves aimed at boosting profits amid dropping prices.

Cash-strapped Venezuela has called for a meeting in February to discuss steps to prop up global oil prices, which have plunged to 12-year lows around $30 a barrel.

“Iraq will agree and cooperate if producers really want to cooperate to cut,” Adel Abdul Mahdi told reporters in Baghdad.

He said the ministry was also preparing a draft law to revive the National Oil Company, which was established in the 1960s but merged into the ministry in 1987. He said it would be “vital for the development of the energy sector” and operate independently of the ministry.

Legislation to reestablish the company has languished for years amid political turmoil and changes of government in the war-battered nation.

Baghdad, which relies on oil exports for nearly all its revenues, is struggling to improve its finances as it wages a costly battle against Islamist insurgents in the north and west.

Southern oil exports through Jan. 24 averaged 3.324 million barrels per day (bpd), with production at about 3.7 million bpd, according to Abdul Mahdi.

Separately, the minister said a Chinese company and other foreign firms had signed a deal this week in Beijing to form a consortium to invest in building an oil pipeline connecting the southern city of Basra with Aqaba port on Jordan’s Red Sea coast.

Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said the main firms were China Petroleum Pipeline (CPP) and private company Mass Global.

“The two companies will submit their investment offer to the oil ministry in March,” he told Reuters.

The plan is to export one million barrels per day (bpd) of Iraqi crude to Jordan, 150,000 bpd of which will supply Jordan’s Zarqa refinery.

Iraq pre-qualified 12 companies and joint ventures in 2013 to build an $18-billion export pipeline to Jordan, but security concerns forced it to delay the plans. The pipeline runs through the western Iraqi province of Anbar, most of which fell under the control of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in 2014.

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