Iraq says it has enough oil capacity to meet customer needs

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Iraq’s oil minister said on Thursday his country had the capacity to increase its oil production to 6 million barrels per day (bpd) if needed, but it was committed to OPEC-led output cuts and would not take unilateral action to boost supply.

Thamer Ghadhban also said there were no acute oil shortages for the time being, but Iraq would continue to monitor the market to assess any need for additional barrels at the next OPEC meeting, due in June.

On Monday, the United States decided not to renew exemptions from sanctions against Iran granted last year to buyers of Iranian oil, taking a tougher line than expected and triggering a rally in oil prices on fears of oil supply shortages.

“We have plenty of time to assess the markets’ reaction,” Ghadhban said at a joint news conference in Baghdad with the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol.

Asked about the effect of US sanctions on markets, Ghadhban said there was “no need for fear and panic.”

Birol said the IEA expected Iraq to add 1.2 million bpd in 10 years to reach 6 million bpd of production in 2030.

The minister also said his country sought fair oil prices for producers, adding that he believed prices had improved.

Baghdad would meet soon with authorities from the Kurdistan Regional Government to discuss issues relating to oil exports from the semi-autonomous region, as well as the budget agreement, Ghadhban said.

Studies were being carried out to increase production capacity from the Kirkuk oilfields by 50 percent, he added.

Ghadhban said Iraq would install a monitoring system on fuel trucks to check movements and prevent smuggling. The system will allow authorities to track fuel trucks around the clock, he said.