By Mahmoud Mourad
CAIRO, April 20 (Reuters) - Iraq may seek to be exempt from a deal between oil exporters to reduce global supply in order to support crude prices and ask to boost its own output, the leader of the nation’s Shi‘ite ruling coalition Ammar al-Hakim told Reuters.
OPEC is due to meet in May to decide on an extension of supply curbs decided late last year to lift prices.
Speaking in Cairo, Hakim cautioned that Baghdad could ask to be exempted from taking part in the supply curbs as the nation needed its oil income to fight Islamic State.
“Given these sensitive circumstances, it is the right of Iraq to hope for an exemption by the other OPEC member states and have an opportunity to increase its production,” Hakim, an influential cleric, said in an interview late on Wednesday.
“But we are with the principle of reducing the overall OPEC supply to lift prices.”
Hakim is the president of the National Alliance, a coalition of the main Shi‘ite political groups including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Dawa party. The Shi‘ite community forms a majority in Iraq.
Iraq is OPEC’s second-largest producer, after Saudi Arabia, with an output of 4.464 million barrels per day (bpd) in March, a reduction of more than 300,000 bpd on levels before OPEC cuts were implemented from Jan. 1.
Baghdad reluctantly agreed to take part in the current agreement to restrain output. Hakim was one of the Iraqi leaders whom OPEC Secretary Mohammed Barkindo met while on visit to Baghdad in October when trying to broker a deal. (Reporting by Mahmoud Mourad in Cairo; Writing by Maher Chmaytelli in Erbil, editing by David Evans)