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Could Iraq really become OPEC’s largest oil producer?

Iraq’s Oil Minister, Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar, announced last week that the country plans to increase its oil production capacity to 8 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2029, compared to current production of around 3.8 million bpd that factors in OPEC-mandated cuts. Based on its vast oil resources there is no insurmountable reason why this output level should not be attained by that time or indeed even the 9 million bpd or 11 million bpd that were posited by the International Energy Agency in its 2012 production scenario analysis for Iraq. Even the lower of these two figures would allow Iraq to overtake Saudi Arabia as the number one oil producer in the Middle East, with the Kingdom producing just 8.17 million bpd on average from 1973 to this year. To reach these new output goals, Iraq announced last week initiatives including boosting the production from the key field of Majnoon and the sale of ExxonMobil’s stake in another major field, West Qurna 1.

Azerbaijan boosts natural gas production, export in 1q2021

During the first three months of the year, Azerbaijan increased natural gas production by 4 percent or 407 million cubic meters, compared to the same period of 2020. Thus, in the reported period, the country produced 10.4 billion cubic meters of gas. Of the total natural gas production, the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli block of fields accounted for 3.4 billion cubic meters of gas produced and Shah Deniz for 5.1 billion cubic meters. In the meantime, SOCAR has produced 1.9 billion cubic meters of gas. Moreover, in the reported period, gas sales abroad amounted to 5 billion cubic meters, which is by 39.5 percent more than in the same period of 2020. Turkey accounted for 3 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijan’s natural gas export, which is by 15.8 percent more than during the same period last year. In addition, 1.1 billion cubic meters of gas were transported to Europe and 784 million cubic meters of gas to Georgia.

Millers forecast 25pc jump in soft red winter wheat crop

A panel of soft wheat millers addressing the virtual Spring Conference of the North American Millers’ Association on April 20 forecast soft red winter wheat production in the United States in 2021 at 332.701 million bushels, up 66.466 million bushels, or 25 percent, from 266.235 million bushels in 2020 and compared with 286 million bushels as the recent five-year average outturn. Grover Van Hoose, merchandising manager, grain, The Mennel Milling Co., was panel chairman and gave the forecast for the Central states region. Van Hoose was joined by Shawn Branstetter, wheat merchandiser, The Andersons, Inc., who provided the forecast for the Mid-Atlantic states; Carl Schwinke, vice president, grain supply, Siemer Milling Co., who shared his projections for the Midwest crop; Sam Doering, soft red winter wheat director, Ardent Mills, LP, who reported on the Southeast; and Mark Rossol, manager, soft wheat, The Andersons, who covered the states of the South, the Mississippi Delta and Southwest.

Tea industry urges FM to digitise wage payments, extend MSME sops

A Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations (CCPA) delegation led by Indian Tea Association (ITA) Chairman Vivek Goenka met the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman here on Tuesday emphasising the need for digitising wage payments of tea garden workers. The issue of activation of bank accounts of workers and setting up of ATMs and CSPs in tea gardens was listed as a priority item. The meeting was assured that all necessary steps would be taken by the Government of India to expedite this process. The delegation handed over a representation to the Finance Minister which included several submissions such as exemption to the tea sector from the purview of Section 194N of the Income Tax Act till the time the banking infrastructure in tea garden areas is improved. The industry also sought for inclusion of the sector under the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) and called for coverage of the tea sector under MSME schemes.

Sugar advisory board to be transferred from industry ministry

Prime Minister Imran Khan has agreed in principle to transfer the Sugar Advisory Board (SAB) from the Ministry of Industries to some other ministry in view of the newly appointed industry minister’s refusal to chair the board due to conflict of interest. During a recent cabinet reshuffle, the prime minister elevated Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar to federal minister for industries. He was earlier heading a relatively less important Ministry of Economic Affairs. Bakhtiar’s family has stakes in the Rahim Yar Khan (RYK) Group that owns five sugar mills with a total production capacity of 637,691 metric tons and has 12.24 percent share in total national production capacity. According to a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) led Sugar Inquiry Commission – formed by the government last year to probe into a sudden surge in sugar prices – the RYK Group had availed 14.19 percent of the total export subsidy amounting to Rs4.14 billion, stated the inquiry report.

Milk production ticked higher in March

Milk production during March picked back up as dairy farmers added cows and per cow output improved on the month. USDA says production in the U.S. for the month was up 1.8 percent at nearly 20 billion pounds with production per cow up 20 pounds from last year. Production was up 1.0 percent for the first quarter. The herd size was up 93,000 head on the year and 7,000 from last month. Michigan remains the leader in per cow output. Florida and Virginia again had the largest decrease in milk production during March, with Vermont close behind, while South Dakota and Indiana lead in productivity gains, up nearly 7.0 percent.

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