“They’ve been able to ramp it up quite impressively, despite ISIS,” oil trader John Kilduff said of the Iraqis’ oil production, which hit 3.4 million barrels a day in November. That level, which earned Baghdad $5.2 billion, was 100,000 barrels higher than the previous month and meant that Iraq is now pumping more oil than any OPEC member other than Saudi Arabia.
Tuesday’s deal between the central government and the Kurdish regional government in Erbil will increase production, raising more money to fight ISIS and adding downward pressure on global oil prices, already are at their lowest levels in years, according to Kilduff and other experts.
Kilduff said Western investment and the ready availability of superior U.S. drilling equipment — denied for decades because of sanctions against the government of Saddam Hussein – have helped Iraq increase its production in the midst of conflict.
But Iraqi geography and ethnic and sectarian divisions also have played a significant role in keeping the nation’s rich oil fields out of harm’s way.