ICEC

Iraq March Crude Exports Rise to Highest in Post-Saddam Era

Iraq’s crude oil exports and revenue rose in March to their highest levels in the nine years since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled former President Saddam Hussein, the head of the State Oil Marketing Organization said.

Exports of crude averaged 2.32 million barrels a day, generating monthly sales of $8.4 billion, Falah al-Amri said today in a telephone interview in Baghdad.

“We expect export levels to increase further this month,” he said.

Iraq holds the world’s fifth-largest oil reserves, according to data from BP Plc that include Canadian oil sands. The Arab nation depends on crude exports for money to rebuild the economy after decades of war and sanctions. Iraq has awarded 15 licenses for oil- and gas-drilling rights to foreign companies in the post-Saddam era, and it plans a new licensing auction in May.

Iraq in March exported an average of 1.92 million barrels a day by sea from its southern Basra terminal and 399,000 barrels a day from the northern oil hub of Kirkuk through a pipeline to Turkey, al-Amri said. Export volumes decreased in January and again in February because bad weather halted marine shipments for several days each month, he said.

Al-Amri said exports in March set a record for the post- Saddam era, without specifying when Iraq last shipped as much crude or generated as much oil revenue as it did last month. The country earned an average monthly sales price for its crude of $118 a barrel in March, he said. It generated $6.6 billion selling oil in February, according to SOMO data.

Asim Jihad, an Oil Ministry spokesman, said on Feb. 23 that Iraq expects to export more than 2.6 million barrels a day by the end of 2012. The third-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries plans to increase daily oil production to 3.4 million barrels a day by the end of the year, up from about 3 million barrels in 2011, he said.

The data have been reported by Bloomberg News.

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