Iraq says OPEC to decide on cuts by the end of the year

By SINAN SALAHEDDINMarketsAssociated Press

The OPEC cartel and a group of allied oil-producing nations will decide by the end of this year whether to extend production cuts and by how long, Iraqi and OPEC officials said Wednesday.

In Dec. 2016, OPEC and non-OPEC members reached an agreement to cut production by 1.8 million barrels a day. Since then, the deal has been extended multiple times but is set to expire by the end of this year.

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"By the end of this year we are going to assess the market and the results and accordingly we will decide whether to go ahead with another year or six months," Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi told an energy conference in Baghdad.

Some countries, al-Luaibi said, are suggesting a six-month extension, while others prefer three months, but he said "Iraq definitely will not deviate from the overall decision of OPEC."

Iraq's share is 210,000 barrels a day. Al-Luaibi expressed his country's satisfaction with the current prices.

"The prices are stabilizing and the market is doing very well, so Iraq is monitoring the market ... and we are in collaboration with OPEC," he said.

OPEC Secretary General, Mohammed Barkindo, told reporters that there will be several meetings before the deal is set to expire at the end of this year.

Borkindo added the cartel will "evaluate the market conditions, watch clearly the impact of the supply adjustment on the markets and take appropriate actions."

Early this month, Iraq's parliament approved this year's budget of about 104 trillion Iraqi dinars, or nearly $88 billion. It runs run with a deficit of 12.5 trillion dinars, or about $10.58 billion.

The budget is based on a projected oil price of $46 per barrel and a daily export capacity of 3.8 million barrels.

Iraq holds the world's fourth largest oil reserves, some 153.1 billion barrels, and oil revenues make up nearly 95 percent of its budget. Plummeting global oil prices, government mismanagement, corruption, and a costly war against the Islamic State group have severely battered the country's economy.