Kurdistan Oil Sector Outperforming Expectations in 2018

With Iraqi Kurdistan set for parliamentary elections on 30 September, politicians can at least point to a modest rebound in crude output this year. But revenues remain well below 2017 levels.

The first eight months of 2018 have seen a much-needed return of upstream activity in the KRG, helping salve the October 2017 loss of Kirkuk output to the Federal government. MEES puts current output at around 380,000 b/d (see chart 1) and expects the region to top 400,000 b/d before the year is out.

Such an outcome seemed virtually impossible during the dark days following Baghdad’s military operation to reclaim Kirkuk, when some 280,000 b/d production was instantly lost ( MEES, 20 October 2017 ). Even as recently as February, MEES expected 2018 output to average just 330,000 b/d ( MEES, 2 February ).

The key driver for this year’s over-performance is that the KRG has defied expectations in managing to improve the reliability of payments to IOCs. Many foreign firms have therefore opted to expand their drilling programs – a stark contrast to recent years when a combination of lower oil prices and irregular payments led to drilling being cut to the bone ( MEES, 13 January 2017 ). (CONTINUED - 1594 WORDS)


chart 1: KRG Output Edging Back Up To 400,000 B/D, Still Well Below Pre-Referendum Levels ('000 B/D)
chart 2: KRG Gross Crude Export Revenue ($Mn)* Slumps To Lowest Since 1q 2016 After Loss Of Kirkuk Fields