Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Iraq’s Pledge to Cut Oil Production
Iraq faces an uphill battle in meeting its obligations to the historic production cut agreement reached by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other major producers such as Russia. The production cuts are due to begin today. Not only is Baghdad mired in deep economic and political crises that show little signs of abating but Iraq’s complex service agreements with international oil companies (IOCs) operating its southern fields means that the Gulf producer would actually have to pay more money to the foreign firms working in its oil sector in excess of existing service fees if it demands the IOCs rein in output to help Iraq meet its targeted quotas. The supplemental fees, which could be millions of dollars, are stipulated in the oil field service contracts that Iraq holds with foreign oil companies that have been assisting with its oil production capacity expansion program over the last several years. The payments structure for Iraq’s service contracts means that output cuts put an added financial strain on the ability of OPEC’s second largest oil producer to comply fully with its pledged one million b/d plus output reductions in the coming months.