Image: A worker walks at Nahr Bin Umar oil field, north of Basra, Iraq December 21, 2015. REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani
BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraq’s exports from its southern region have been running at an average daily rate of 3.297 million barrels per day (bpd) so far this month, higher than December’s average and unaffected by tribal clashes, an oil company executive said on Saturday.
All the fields are running normally, state-run South Oil Co.’s deputy director general Salah Mahdi told Reuters in an interview in Basra. “The security situation is very good, I don’t see any impact on our oil operations,” he said.
Iraq sent an armored army division and a police strike force into the southern oil city of Basra to disarm residents as fighting between rival Shi’ite Muslim tribes intensified, local officials and security sources said on Friday.
Iraq exported 3.215 million bpd on average in December, according to the oil ministry. The country produces most of its oil from the southern region.
The crude shipments from the south account for all of Iraq’s central government’s oil sales as the Kurdish regional government in the north in mid-2015 pursued independent sales in an escalating row over oil export rights and budget payments.
The southern regions are far from areas of conflict with Islamic State militants in the north and west, but recent tribal fighting raised fears of disruptions to energy operations.
“Recent security operations in Basra are sending reassuring messages to international foreign oil companies,” Mahdi said.South Oil Co., which has overseen all exploration and production operations south of Baghdad, is about to change its name to Basra Oil Co. as part of an ongoing government plan to break it up into several provincial oil companies.
(Reporting by Aref Mohammed; Writing by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Louise Ireland and Mark Potter)
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