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By Aref Mohammed Ahmed Rasheed
BAGHDAD, Jan 1 (Reuters) - Oil exports from Iraq’s southern Basra ports rose to a record high of 3.535 million barrels per day (bpd) in December from 3.5 million bpd the previous month, two oil officials said on Monday.
Southern exports are on the rise as Iraq seeks to offset the halting of shipments from its Kirkuk oilfields in the north in mid-October after Iraqi forces took back control of fields from Kurdish fighters.
The bulk of Iraq’s oil is exported via the southern terminals.
The December figure for southern exports beat the previous record of 3.51 million bpd set in December 2016, the last month before an output cut agreement led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries took effect.
Rising output from small oilfields developed by the state-run Basra Oil Company helped push up December exports, an oil official told Reuters.
The increase last month, though, has not completely offset the halt of shipments from the north.
“Our plan is to keep boosting exports from the southern oilfields to make up for the lost Kirkuk shipments,” said another oil official with the state-run Basra Oil Company.
Iraq is OPEC’s second-largest producer after Saudi Arabia with an output capacity of 4.8 million bpd which Baghdad aims to increase to 5 million bpd. (Reporting by Aref Mohammed and Ahmed Rasheed; editing by Jason Neely and Adrian Croft)