Iraq’s northern oil output in March hits highest post-war level

April 27th 2011

Iraq’s northern crude oil production rose in March to its highest level since the US-led invasion of March 2003 as a result of higher output from oil fields in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan province, but overall output fell by 105,000 barrels per day (b/d) from February, oil ministry figures obtained by Platts show.

Northern production rose to 712,000 b/d in March, up 13,000 b/d from February. The March figures include 86,000 b/d of oil produced in the Tawke and Taq Taq fields in Iraqi Kurdistan compared with 69,000 b/d in February.

Production from southern oil fields fell in March to 1.813 million b/d, a 118,000 b/d decline from February’s 1.931 million b/d, the ministry data seen Monday shows.

The fall in southern output in March was attributed by some sources to some production fluctuations at the Rumaila oil field due to unexpected well back pressure and limitations at processing facilities.

BP, leader of a consortium developing the giant Rumaila field, the country’s biggest, and Eni, leading the development of the Zubair oil field, declared in December and January respectively that they had passed the 10% targeted increase above base production ahead of schedule.

ExxonMobil, leading developer of the West Qurna I oil field said March 28 that the 10% increase was achieved from the giant field, raising output to 285,000 b/d from baseline production of 244,000 b/d.

The increases in production from the giant fields, which has come two years ahead of the contractual time frames, will entitle developers to start receiving payment for costs from the incremental production achieved.

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