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Sep 23, 5:30 AM EDT

Iraq sets ceiling on oil production before Algeria meeting



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BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq's Oil Minister said his country supports any deal to prop up oil prices in the international market ahead of next week's meeting of oil producers in Algeria, adding that fluctuating prices have badly affected the producers.

Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers are scheduled to meet Sept. 28 in Algeria in a bid to reach a deal to boost prices by limiting oil production. In April, oil producers met in Qatar to discuss the proposal but failed to agree on a cap after Iran, which wants to boost exports after years of sanctions, refused to join in.

In a statement issued late Thursday, Minister Jabar al-Luaibi set a production ceiling of between 4.75 and 5 million barrels per day. Al-Luaibi said Iraq's "fixed policy is to maintain Iraq's share" in the global oil market.

"Iraq's oil policy aims at cooperating with the producers inside and outside OPEC to achieve the needed balance in supply and demand and the stability in the market," he added.

Crude oil is now traded at around $46 a barrel, down from more than $100 in mid-2014. Low oil prices have wreaked havoc on Iraq's national budget, of which oil revenue makes up nearly 95 percent, pitching the country into a severe financial crisis as it struggles to combat the Islamic State group.

Iraq is also grappling with a major humanitarian crisis. The U.N. estimates that more than 3 million people have been forced from their homes since IS swept across northern and western Iraq in 2014, capturing the country's second largest city, Mosul.

The Iraqi government is now gearing up for a major offensive to retake Mosul, pledging to recapture the city this year.

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