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Q&A: Ammar al-Anbagi, director general of SOMO

Iraq's oil marketing chief discusses Russia-related oil market dynamics, the restart of Qayarah crude exports, and recent steps to activate the TotalEnergies mega-deal.
Ammar Abdal al-Anbagi (center right), the new director general of SOMO, presides over a ceremony on March 9, 2023, to inaugurate his new tenure, along with Alaa al-Yassiri (center left), the outgoing director general. (Photo credit: SOMO)

Iraq has managed to hold on to its position as one of the biggest suppliers of crude oil to the Asian market despite competition from increased flows of discounted Russian oil that has been locked out of its traditional markets, Ammar al-Anbagi, the director general of Iraq's state oil marketing company, SOMO, said in an interview with Iraq Oil Report.

SOMO has also adapted its marketing strategy, Anbagi said, to secure some of Russia’s share of the European market where an embargo on imports of Russian crude oil came into force in December 2022.

Iraq normally sells its crude oil at an official selling price set each month by SOMO under contracts to lifters in Asia, Europe and North America. It has recently been offering some additional cargoes on the spot market, where crude fetches a premium over the official selling price.

The recent tenders included cargoes of Qayarah heavy oil following the restart of the oil field at a rate of 33,000 barrels per day, of which 30,000 bpd has been allocated for export, Anbagi said.

SOMO is also playing a role in activating Iraq's $27 billion Gas Growth Integrated Project (GGIP) deal with TotalEnergies, which includes agreements for the French company to be paid in-kind via crude liftings. Talks with Totsa, the oil trading arm of TotalEnergies, are underway.

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