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Iraq oil exports, revenues dip in 2013

By AFP - Jan 22,2014 - Last updated at Jan 22,2014

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s oil exports and revenues declined in 2013 compared to the previous year, official figures showed Wednesday, despite efforts to dramatically ramp up crude sales to fund much-needed reconstruction.

Exports totalled 872.3 million barrels, or 2.39 million barrels per day (bpd), last year compared with 2.42 million bpd in 2012, according to oil ministry figures.

Revenues dipped to $89.22 billion (66.08 billion euros) from $94.02 billion.

Iraq relies on oil exports for nearly all of its government revenue, and crude sales account for most of the gross domestic product (GDP).

The drop in exports was attributed to various periods of bad weather, sabotage against the main northern pipeline and maintenance work at the main export terminal in the south.

But the ministry has trumpeted investment in export and storage infrastructure, which it said would pay off soon.

Additionally, it says new fields are due to begin production, helping the country increase its output and exports in 2014.

Overall production averaged 3.07 million bpd in December, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Officials aim to increase capacity from 3.2 million bpd now to 9 million bpd by 2017, a target the International Monetary Fund and IEA have warned is overly optimistic.

Baghdad is seeking to dramatically ramp up exports to fund desperately needed reconstruction of Iraq’s conflict-battered infrastructure and economy.

Oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told AFP that while exports and sales dropped in 2013, investment in pipeline and export infrastructure, as well as major storage facilities, would reap dividends in the coming year.

“All of these will increase the amount we export, and limit the effects of any stoppages,” he said.

He also pointed to expected increases in production from the southern fields of Badra and West Qurna due later in the year.

For December, exports recovered from multi-month lows earlier in the year, but were still below their peak, according to oil ministry data.

Iraq exported 72.6 million barrels in December, an average of 2.34 million bpd, bringing in revenues of $7.47 billion.

The overall monthly figure was higher than in November, and also represented a marked increase on September, when exports averaged just 2.07 million bpd.

“The exports and income in December was an increase... even though there was bad weather and technical repairs in the southern ports,” Jihad said in a statement.

Jihad added that efforts to remove remnants of decades of war from the Shatt Al Arab waterway, through which Iraq ships the lion’s share of its exports, had also held back sales.

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