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Russia's Lukoil Buys First Iraqi Kirkuk Crude since Flows Resume

Source: Reuters 12/12/2018, Location: Middle East

The first cargo of Iraqi Kirkuk crude to change hands since flows resumed last month has been sold to Litasco, the Swiss-based trading arm of Russian oil producer Lukoil, ship-tracking data and a shipping document showed.

The Rava tanker, loaded with about 600,000 barrels of Kirkuk oil, left the Turkish port of Ceyhan on Dec. 10 for Lukoilís refining system in Italy, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

Reuters also saw a bill of lading for the Rava, confirming details of the trade.

Litasco is scheduled to take two more cargoes of Kirkuk oil in December, a local shipping agent said.

Iraq restarted exports of Kirkuk oil in November after a new government in Baghdad agreed a tentative deal with Kurdistanís semi-autonomous region. Flows had been halted a year earlier due to a standoff between the central government and Erbil.

The U.S. government had called for a resumption of flows to help tackle a shortage of Iranian crude in the region after Washington imposed new sanctions on Tehran.

Flows resumed at around 50,000-60,000 barrels per day (bpd). Prior to the halt in October 2017, nearly 300,000 bpd of Kirkuk oil flowed out of Iraq through Turkey to international markets. Some 185,000 bpd has been slated to feed Iraqi refineries.

Last week, Iraqís oil minister said Kirkuk production was about 400,000 bpd. Of that, around 100,000 bpd is flowing into Iraq-owned storage in Ceyhan, Iraqi oil ministry officials say.

Lukoil is a major player in Iraq, where it produces around 400,000 bpd at the West Qurna-2 oilfield.

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