After Iraq hit a post-invasion high in oil exports in early 2010, both output and foreign sales dropped the next two months. In February 2010 Iraq produced an average of 2.44 million barrels a day and exported 2.05 million barrels a day, the largest amount since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. After hitting that high point however, production and exports dropped over the next two months. In March and April the country produced an average of 2.25 million barrels a day and 2.40 million barrels a day respectively. Exports for those months dropped to 1.84 million barrels a day in March, and 1.71 million barrels a day in April. That was down to the levels of the first half of 2009. The decline was blamed on an April attack on the northern pipeline to Turkey that knocked it out of service for a few days, and bad weather in March.
March and April broke a ten-month plateau established in mid-2009. From May 2009 to Feb. 2010 Iraq averaged 2.45 million barrels a day in production, and 1.93 million barrels in exports. That was the highest output since the U.S. invasion, and the result of the improved security situation, which saw a dramatic drop in attacks upon the oil pipelines. Iraq’s petroleum infrastructure was also working at top capacity. As has often happened in recent years however, the country was not able to sustain that output. As a result, Iraq’s exports have continuously gone up and down.
Despite the decline in foreign sales, Iraq is still seeing increased revenues due to the rising price of oil. In February 2010 for example, Iraq earned $4.229 billion. The next month exports dropped, yet the country was able to earn $4.35 billion. The price of Iraqi crude has seen a steady increase since hitting a low point in 2008 due to the world recession.
The Oil Ministry is now hoping to boost production with the help of international companies that signed deals last year. In April 2010 the Ministry announced that it had plans to increase production to 4.5 million barrels a day, and have exports up to 3.1 million barrels by 2014. This is a multi-billion dollar investment plan that relies upon both private and public money. As reported before, a few of the foreign corporations have already begun initial work on Iraq’s oil fields. British Petroleum for example, announced that it will boost production at the Rumaila field in Basra by 10% by the end of the year. Rumaila is one of the largest oil fields in the world and currently produces 1.07 million barrels a day. Iraq needs as much help as it can get since oil provides up between 80-90% of the country’s revenue, and it still has not reached its pre-war levels.
Iraq Avg. Monthly Oil Production/Exports (Millions of Barrels Per Day)
2009 Avg. 2.40/1.88
2010 Avg. 2.38/1.88
Iraq Yearly Oil Production/Export Avg. (Millions of Barrels Per Day)
10-Month Plateau In Production – May 09-Feb. 10
AK News, “BP expects a 50% increase in Rumaileh oil production by the start of next year,” 4/29/10
Associated Press, “Iraq’s Oil Exports Dip in March by 11 Percent,” 4/20/10
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, “Iraq Status Report,” U.S. Department of State, 5/5/10
DPA, “Iraqi oil revenues topped 4.35 billion in March,” 4/22/10
- “Northern Iraqi oil pipeline bombed – Summary,” 4/22/10
Iraq-Business News, “BP Awards $500mn Oil Services Contracts in Iraq,” 3/30/10
Reuters, “UPDATE 1-Iraq aims to up oil output to 4.5 mln bpd in 2014,” 4/28/10
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