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Paris — Iraq believes it would be acceptable for the OPEC-led production cut deal to be continued in its current form, oil minister Jabbar al-Luaibi said Thursday.

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The producer group meets on May 25 to decide whether to extend the landmark agreement that came into force in January.

Luaibi was tight-lipped on whether OPEC's second-largest producer would seek an exemption as it attempted last year in the run-up to the OPEC and non-OPEC deal before coming on board.

Instead, Luaibi said Iraq should be aligned with OPEC and that the country would be in line with OPEC's final decision in May in a strong show of support that OPEC is singing with one voice.



In the same vein, Luaibi stressed that Iraq is in "full compliance" with the OPEC-led deal to cut its production, playing down claims that it is the most non-compliant member.

Speaking at the International Oil Summit in Paris, Luaibi then toned down his approach, saying Iraq had "reached 97% of its obligation," whereby it has agreed to slash crude output by 210,000 b/d over the six-month period.

The deal calls for the group to cut 1.2 million b/d from October levels, while 11 non-OPEC producers, led by Russia, agreed to cut 558,000 b/d.

Iraq, which has disputed secondary source estimates of its output, produced 4.40 million b/d in March, down slightly from February's 4.41 million b/d, according to secondary sources. Iraq did not self-report a March figure but said in February it produced 4.57 million b/d.

The country appears to be the most non-compliant OPEC member in the deal, as its quota is 4.351 million b/d.

OPEC's 13 ministers will meet in Vienna on May 25 to review the production cut agreement, which expires in June, amid reports of a growing consensus within the group to extend the deal into the second half of the year to draw down inventories further and support prices.

The minister rejected claims that its plans to raise output capacity to 5 million b/d by the end of the year is at odds with OPEC's strategy. "The OPEC agreement doesn't mean stopping the rehabilitation of fields or industry. Iraq was on a fast track to increase production before the OPEC decision," he said.

--Paul Hickin, paul.hickin@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jonathan Fox, jonathan.fox@spglobal.com