Iraq says it is willing to play active role in propping up oil prices

Iraq is willing to play an active role within Opec to support oil prices, its oil minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi said on Saturday, without clarifying whether it was prepared to back a possible agreement to freeze output.

“Iraq is seeking to play an active role in order to support oil prices while preserving a share that is proportionate to its reserves,” the minister said during a visit to the southern oil city of Basra, according to oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad.

Iraq wants to “strengthen Opec’s role in achieving a balance in the oil market,” Luaibi added, according to the spokesman, without making it clear whether Iraq would take part in a possible agreement to freeze output to lift prices.

Members of Opec are due to meet informally in Algeria next month on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum (IEF). Russia is also expected to attend the IEF.

Iraq’s prime minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday said the country has not yet reached its full oil market share, suggesting his government is not willing to restrain crude output.

Iraq, which is Opec’s second-largest producer, trailing Saudi Arabia, depends on oil sales for 95 per cent of its public spending and appears set to continue boosting production, which currently stands at around 4.6 million barrels per day.

Sources in Opec and the oil industry this week told Reuters that Iran, Opec’s third-largest producer, was sending positive signals that it may support joint action to prop up the oil market.

Tehran refused to join an attempt in April to freeze output at January levels, scuppering those talks because Saudi Arabia said it wanted all producers to join the initiative.

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