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Iraq's prime minister-designate to name cabinet, including oil minister, this week

Iraq's prime minister-designate Mohammed Allawi said he will name members of his cabinet this week, including the oil minister, pending approval of parliament on his choices of ministers for OPEC's second-largest crude producer.

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The cabinet members are "independent" candidates who will be picked without any political interference, Allawi said Saturday in a tweet.

Thamer Ghadhban, Iraq's current oil minister and deputy prime minister for energy affairs, has held the post since November 2018. It is not known if he will stay in the new cabinet, which will replace that of outgoing Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned last year in the face of protests demanding political and economic change. The protests, which started in October last year, have occasionally disrupted oil supply from some fields and refineries without impacting overall production and exports.

Ghadhban has been in the Iraqi oil sector since becoming a field and reservoir engineer in 1973, and moved up the ranks until 2003 when, after the US-led invasion, he was named by the Americans as CEO of the oil ministry. Ghadhban also served as oil minister between 2004-2005.

OPEC+ compliance

Iraq produced more oil than it agreed for most of last year as part of the OPEC+ deal , which is currently trimming 1.7 million b/d of oil from the global markets through March.

The country earlier this month said its January production fell 70,000 b/d to 4.47 million b/d, still above its OPEC quota of 4.46 million b/d.

The latest S&P Global Platts OPEC survey also showed overproduction in January, at 4.6 million b/d, breaking a four-month trend of improving compliance.

The alliance is mulling another 600,000 b/d cut to make up for the loss of demand from the world's top oil importer China, which is grappling with the economic fallout from the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus.

Iranian gas

Iraq's oil ministry has signed various agreements to treat associated gas in all of the country's oil fields in a bid to stop importing Iranian gas for power generation, the state-run Iraqi News Agency reported on Sunday.

Currently Iraq can produce around 1.3 billion standard cubic feet/day of gas out of its oil fields, Hamid Younis, deputy minister for gas affairs told INA.

It plans to produce 2 Bscf/d, Younis added.

The US has again extended a waiver allowing Iraq to import Iranian electricity and natural gas during US sanctions against the Islamic Republic, a US State Department spokesman said last week.

This is the sixth waiver the US has issued for Iraq since US sanctions on Iran energy exports snapped back in November 2018. After an initial 45-day waiver, the State Department issued two 90-day waivers in a row followed by two 120-day waivers in a row in June and then October.

Previously, the US had asked Iraq to show signs that it was reducing its imports of Iranian gas and power to meet its electricity demand. It also urged Iraq to establish contracts with US companies.