Iraq oil exports highest since Saddam

AFP , Wednesday 23 Feb 2011

Production increase set to cover budget deficit, says oil ministry

Iraq's oil exports and revenues from crude sales in January hit their highest levels since the 2003 US-led invasion which ousted Saddam Hussein, the oil ministry announced on Wednesday.

Iraq exported a total of 67 million barrels of oil last month, generating US$6.082 billion in income at an average price of $90.78 a barrel, according to figures published by the ministry.

"It's the highest exports and revenues for Iraq since 2003, and this will cover the budget deficit if it continues," ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told AFP.

Jihad said production had increased to between 2.6 and 2.7m barrels per day (bpd), and was projected to increase three million bpd by the end of the year.

Oil sales account for around 90 per cent of government income. The country's budget, approved last Sunday, factors in oil prices of $76.50 per barrel and average exports of 2.2m bpd.

Most of the January increase in exports passed through the southern port of Basra, which already accounts for the vast majority of foreign sales, the ministry's figures showed.

A total of 54m barrels of oil were exported from Basra, while the remainder passed through the Ceyhan oil pipeline connecting northern Iraq with Turkey.

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