(Adds details, background)
BAGHDAD Jan 10 Iraq has cut oil production by
160,000 barrels per day (bpd) since the beginning of January in
line with an OPEC decision to lower output, the oil ministry
said in a statement on Tuesday.
Oil Minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi said he hoped that by the
end of the month production would be cut by 210,000 bpd, in line
with the OPEC-agreed cap for Iraq, according to the statement.
Iraq, the second-largest producer in the Organization of the
Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), said on Monday exports
from its southern oil ports had reached a record 3.51 million
bpd, but it was nonetheless lowering nationwide production.
OPEC agreed in November to cut output by 1.2 million bpd
from January 2017 to support prices.
A separate ministry statement on Tuesday said Luaibi had
invited Angolan oil company Sonangol to begin working at the
Qayyara and Najma oil fields in northern Iraq by the end of
The ministry was "working to enable oil companies in Iraq to
operate by removing obstacles" in areas recaptured in recent
months from insurgents.
Sonangol had pulled out of an agreement to increase output
at the Qayyara fields in 2014, citing the mounting security
Iraqi oil workers have capped a number of burning wells set
alight by Islamic State militants as they retreated from Qayyara
towards Mosul, where U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are pressing an
offensive against the group.
Qayyara and Najma used to produce up to 30,000 bpd of heavy
crude before they fell under control of the ultra-hardline
Reliant on oil sales for most of its income, Iraq had
resisted production cuts, saying it needed revenue to fund a war
against Islamic State militants who seized a third of the
country's territory in 2014.
But it has accepted a lower production reference level as
part of the OPEC deal that estimated its output at 4.561 million
(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and John Davison; Editing by Susan
Fenton and Mark Potter)