Iraq is exceedingly close to its 5mn b/d production capacity target, at least on paper. Opec cuts may temporarily hamper output gains, but bottlenecks in pipeline and export infrastructure, as well as a dearth of options downstream are the real reason why reality may prove less than the sum of its parts.

Iraq’s oil sector rounded off months of record form in December, with wellhead production at an all-time high of 4.70mn b/d (see p6). For 2018 as a whole, output averaged 4.53mn b/d,...