Iraq’s crude production overtook Iran’s last month for the first time in more than two decades as Iran led a decline in Opec output, according to the producer group. Iraq pumped 2.984mn bpd in June, outpacing Iran’s 2.963mn, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ Vienna-based secretariat said yesterday in its Monthly Oil Market Report. That is the first time Iraq’s output has exceeded Iran’s since 1988, when the countries ended their eight-year war, statistics compiled by BP show. The reduction from Iran, ahead of full sanctions by the EU that started on July 1, led to the second monthly decline in total Opec production to 31.36mn bpd in June, versus 31.47mn in May, according to the group’s estimates, which are based on secondary sources including analysts and news agencies. Falling Opec production last month coincided with a 4% drop in Brent crude on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange, contributing to a 20% price decline for the second quarter. “Iran and Angola led the crude oil output decrease, while crude oil output from Iraq, Kuwait, and Libya experienced the largest increase in June,” the monthly report said, without elaborating on reasons for the changes. The organisation, provider of about 40% of the world’s oil, maintained its official production ceiling at 30mn bpd at a meeting in Vienna last month. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, pumped 9.89mn bpd in June, versus 9.88mn bpd in May, according to Opec’s secondary sources. Opec also publishes official production figures for some nations as supplied by a “direct communication” from those governments. Saudi Arabia’s official production rate rose to 10.1mn bpd in June from 9.81mn bpd in May, the kingdom said. Iran’s government didn’t provide June production data to Opec, though it listed May production at 3.76mn bpd, little changed from April. “Iran is currently producing about 4mn barrels of oil a day,” Deputy Oil Minister Ahmad Qalebani said yesterday, according to the Iranian Oil Ministry’s Shana news website. “Decrease in production in certain areas was due to periodical maintenance, which means that the oil production capacity in the country hasn’t decreased,” he said, according to the report. The rising rate of Iraqi production comes as foreign investors such as ExxonMobil Corp and BP are developing new fields and reworking older deposits. The country has held several licensing rounds for oil and gas fields since the US-led invasion of 2003 ended the rule of Saddam Hussein and more than two decades of stagnation caused by wars, sanctions and underinvestment. Opec’s 12 members are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Venezuela. from gulf times.