(Adds SOMO comments)
By Ahmed Rasheed
BAGHDAD, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Iraq’s October crude exports from its southern ports rose to an average of 3.348 million barrels per day (bps), up by about 100,000 bpd from September, the oil ministry said on Thursday.
Iraq has increased shipments from its ports on the Gulf to make up for a shortfall from its northern Kirkuk fields, ministry and oil marketing company SOMO officials said.
The volume announced by the oil ministry only covers crude sold by SOMO and not that sold by the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq.
Iraq on Oct. 21 said it was increasing oil exports from the southern region by 200,000 bpd as output from Kirkuk fell when Iraqi forces took back control of the northern region’s oilfields from Kurdish fighters who had been there since 2014.
Until these shutdowns, the northern oil region exported about 530,000 bpd, of which about half came from the KRG and the rest from Kirkuk, a disputed province claimed by both the Kurds and Iraqi authorities in Baghdad.
The crude from the northern regions is carried by a pipeline across Iraqi Kurdistan and then Turkey. It is exported from the Turkish terminal of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces deployed in Kirkuk in 2014, when the Iraqi army fled in the face of an advance by Islamic State militants. The Kurdish move prevented the militants from taking control of the oilfields.
Iraq wants the Kurdistan region to stop independent crude exports and to hand over sales operations to SOMO, the company’s acting director general Alaa al-Yasiri told reporters in Baghdad.
Iraq is talking to Turkey to allow SOMO to sell the Kurdish crude that arrives by pipeline in Ceyhan, he said.
The pipeline carried on average 419,000 bpd in October, down from 600,000 bpd in September, said Farid al-Jadir, the director general of North Oil Company, which operates Kirkuk.
SOMO’s October sales, all from southern oilfields, generated $5.455 billion in revenue for the central government in Baghdad.
The average selling price was $52.60 per barrel, the oil ministry said. (Reporting Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter)