Iraq's Oil Ministry recently released its figures for February's oil exports and profits in January 2011. The Kurds were allowed to sell their petroleum to foreign markets again, boosting exports, while the crisis in Libya increased prices. Both resulted in jumps in production and revenue for Iraq.
In the last two months, the Oil Ministry has achieved the highest levels of exports since the fall of Saddam Hussein. In February, the country exported an average of 2.202 million barrels a day. That was an increase from 2.161 million barrels a day recorded in January. Both of those months surpassed the previous high mark of 2.05 million barrels a day achieved in February 2010. As usual, the bulk of Iraq's production flowed to the southern port of Basra where an average of 1.708 million barrels a day was pumped into tanker ships. The northern pipeline to Turkey exported an average of 484,000 barrels a day. That included an average of 80,000 barrels a day from Kurdistan. An additional 10,000 barrels a day were trucked to Jordan. These achievements were largely the result of foreign oil deals signed in 2009. International companies have finally started working in southern Iraq where the bulk of Iraq's oilfields reside, and raised output.
Iraqi Oil Exports January 2010-February 2011 (Avg. million barrels per day)
Iraq has also benefited from the recent sharp increase in global oil prices. In January 2011, the country earned $6.082 billion. The average price for a barrel of Iraqi crude sold for $90.78. Only partial figures for February have been released so far, but the Oil Ministry did say that Iraq earned another $6 billion last month, while prices had soared to around $97-$98 a barrel. In comparison, in December 2010 Iraq earned $5.222 billion, while selling oil for an average of $86.31 per barrel. Political instability in Libya, which has cut its petroleum production in half, and the waves of protests hitting North Africa and the Middle East have been responsible for the sharp rise in prices. This looks to continue for the next several months until the situation is resolved, making Iraq an unintended beneficiary of other countries' instability.
Iraqi Oil Production & Earnings January 2010-January 2011
|Month||Total Production (Mil/Bar)||Revenue||Avg. Price Per Barrel|
|Jan. 2010||59.7||$4.441 bil||$73.97|
|Jan. 2011||67.0||$6.082 bil||$90.78|
Iraq looks like it will be benefiting from both rising prices and output for at least the near term. Oil production has been largely stagnant since 2008. Now foreign companies' investments have finally started paying off. That couldn't come at a better time as international petroleum prices are reaching new highs after bottoming out during the world recession. The question now becomes whether Baghdad will wisely spend these new found riches, or will it waste it or not even get around to appropriating it as has happened in every year since sovereignty was returned in 2005.
AFP, Bloomberg, SOMO, "Iraq Oil Exports Up Again in January," Iraq Business news, 2/27/11
Agence France Presse, "Iraq oil exports highest since Saddam: ministry," 2/23/11
Associated Press, "Iraq's February oil export highest since invasion," 3/1/11
Iraq Business News, "Iraq Oil Exports: 2011 Volume Down, Revenue Up," 1/27/11