Iraq needs oil to fill ‘budget hole’
IRAQ has to up its crude output because dwindling oil prices and the fight against Islamic State have left “a huge hole” in the economy, Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said as the OPEC cartel scrambles to agree a production cut deal.
“As oil makes up for more than 90 percent of Iraq’s budget, a huge hole was knocked in the budget by the fall in prices right at the same time as we have had to increase spending on the army due to the fight against IS,” Mr Jaafari told reporters during an official visit in Budapest.
Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest oil producer, has been pumping more oil over the past few months to reach an average of 4.56 million barrels per day (mb/d) in October.
The remarks came as officials from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries tried to hammer out details of an agreement set to be finalised on November 30 in Vienna.
OPEC, led by the world’s top oil producer Saudi Arabia, agreed a surprise deal in September to trim production and boost prices depressed since 2014.
The accord is supposed to lead to a wider pact with non-cartel producers including Russia – the world’s largest producer alongside the Saudis – in a bid to stabilise oil prices in 2017. –