Tuesday, June 6

Iraq schedules crude shipments for March loading amid strong demand-oil official

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BAGHDAD — Iraq has already scheduled some oil shipments for loading in March due to projections of strong demand, Ali Nizar, deputy head of Iraq’s State Organization for Marketing of Oil (SOMO), told reporters on Sunday.

On the subject of oil prices, Nizar said it was still too early to say if prices will exceed $100 per barrel, as some analysts have forecast.

Oil prices hit a seven-year high just above $89 a barrel on Wednesday. Any price increase will not last, Nizar said, but the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was taking the current fluctuations into consideration.

OPEC+, the group of producers comprising OPEC and allies including Russia, have aimed to raise output by 400,000 bpd a month but production has increased by less than that as some producers struggle to pump more, according to OPEC’s monthly report in January.

The market could need additional quantities of oil and OPEC+ will offer more to the market if needed, Nizar said. He added that Iraq’s average oil exports are expected to rise to 3.3 million barrels per day in February, from 3.2 million barrels per day in January .

(Reporting by Moayad Kenany; Writing by Lina Najem; Editing by Susan Fenton)