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Iraqi oil exports hit highest level since 1980 in March

(Xinhua)

16:04, April 02, 2012

BAGHDAD, April 1 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi crude oil exports struck the highest level since 1980 in March, as the country exported 71.827 million barrels and brought in more than 8.4 billion U.S. dollars, the Iraqi Oil Ministry said Sunday.

The average crude oil exports in March was 2.317 million barrel per day (bpd), with an average selling price of 118 U.S. dollars per barrel, the ministry said in a statement.

During the month, Iraq exported 59.427 million barrels of crude oil through the southern port of Basra, and the rest were exported via Turkey's port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea, it said.

"The amount of oil exported during March climbed up to a level that Iraq has not reached since 1980," the statement quoted the oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad as saying.

Iraqi total oil exports increased despite the decrease of exports from the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, which reached 65,000 bpd, in addition to sporadic attacks on the oil pipelines in northern Iraq and sometimes bad weather in southern the country, Jihad said.

He said that the recent increase in the oil exports was attributed to the new floating oil terminal built in February in the Gulf in the south of Iraq.

The single-point mooring (SPM) was built with an export capacity of 850,000 to 900,000 bpd in an attempt to increase Iraq' s oil exports through the oil-hub of Basra in southern the country.

The new terminal is one of five floating terminals with similar oil export capacity that the Iraqi oil ministry is building in the coming years in the Gulf.

Iraq is planning to increase its oil export capacity via Basra port to more than 5 million bpd in the coming years from the current capacity of nearly 1.9 million barrels a day.

Iraq has signed service contracts with international firms to develop 12 oil fields across the country to increase its oil production capacity.

However, Iraq's oil exports averaged 2.3 million barrels a day through both Basra port and Turkey's Ceyhan port.

The country depends on oil revenues for nearly 95 percent of its budget.

In 2010 Iraq announced its proven oil reserves had increased to 143.1 billion barrels from the previous estimation of 115 billion barrels.

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