Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi on Wednesday said Baghdad would increase oil exports from fields in the northern province of Kirkuk to Turkey's southern port.
In a weekly news conference, Abdul-Mahdi told reporters that plans were underway to increase the export of the current 60,000 barrels daily to 100,000. He added that relatuions were amiable between his administration and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), from where the oil would be transported to Turkey's Ceyhan seaport on the Mediterranean coast. Relations between the Iraqi government and the KRG had been strained since September 2017, when the latter held an unconstitutional referendum on Kurdish regional independence. Baghdad responded to the illegitimate poll by imposing a broad range of sanctions on the Irbil-based KRG.
In the wake of last year's referendum, federal forces also seized control of all parts of Iraq "disputed" between Baghdad and Irbil, including the oil-rich Kirkuk province.
Oil extraction and pumping from Iraq's northern Kirkuk province was suspended in October 2017 until Nov. 16, 2018, when Iraq's federal government and the KRG reached a tentative agreement to resume oil exports from Kirkuk to Ceyhan.
Flows resumed at a modest level of around 50,000-60,000 barrels per day (bpd) compared with a peak of 300,000 bpd seen last year. Kirkuk oil is an alternative to replace the shortage from Iran's exports that were hit with the second phase of U.S. sanctions on Nov. 5. Iran's oil exports are projected to fall by 1 million barrels. Iraq is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) second-largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia, producing roughly 4.5 million barrels per day.
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