Iraq’s oil exports in 2013 declined compared with the previous year, new figures showed yesterday, despite the country’s efforts to dramatically ramp up crude sales to fund much-needed reconstruction. Exports in December recovered from multi-month lows earlier in the year, but were still below their peak, with overall exports and revenues for the year lower than similar figures for 2012, according to oil ministry data compiled by AFP. Overall, Iraq exported 72.6 million barrels of oil in December, an average of 2.34 million barrels per day (bpd), bringing in revenues of $7.47 billion (5.5 billion euros). Those figures were higher than in November, and also represented marked increases in September, when Iraq managed to export 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,” oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said in a statement. Jihad also said efforts to remove remnants of decades of war from the Shatt al Arab waterway in south Iraq, through which the country ships the lion’s share of its exports, had held back overall sales. But despite the recovery, oil sales in 2013 represented a decline compared with 2012. Iraq exported a total of 872.3 million barrels of oil last year, or 2.39 million bpd, compared with 2.42 million bpd in 2012, according to oil ministry figures. Annual revenues dipped to $89.22 billion in 2013 from $94.02 billion the previous year. Overall production averaged 3.07 million bpd, according to an International Energy Agency (IEA) report.
Iraq relies on oil exports for nearly all of its government revenue, and crude sales account for most of the country’s GDP. Baghdad is seeking to dramatically ramp up exports in the coming years to fund desperately needed reconstruction of Iraq’s conflict-battered infrastructure and economy. Officials are aiming to increase production capacity to nine million barrels per day by 2017, a target that the International Monetary Fund and IEA have warned is over-optimistic.