Iraq earned a total of more than $7.34bn from crude oil exports in April, despite a drop in daily exports, as average oil prices rose to $114.36 a barrel for the month.

The record oil revenues follow receipts of $7.17bn in March and more than $6bn in February and January this year. By comparison, monthly revenues in 2010 fluctuated between a high of $5.2bn in December and low of $3.96bn in August. Oil prices for the year never topped more than $86 a barrel.

According to data released by the Oil Ministry, approximately 64.2 million barrels of oil were exported in April, down 4 per cent from the 66.9 million barrels exported in March. This is 2.14 million barrels a day (b/d) compared to 1.93 million b/d in April 2010.

Exports through oil terminals at Basra and Khor Alamya in the Gulf, which form the majority of Iraq’s crude shipments, amounted to 49.7 million barrels, at 1.65 million b/d. This is down from 52.3 million barrels in March (MEED 26:4:11).

Exports from the north of the country through the pipeline from Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan totalled 14.5 million barrels or approximately 483,000 b/d, up from 470,000 b/d in March.

The decreases over the past two months have been attributed to insurgent attacks and bad weather in the Gulf, according to Oil Ministry officials.

Nonetheless, Iraq’s infrastructure is operating at near full capacity. The Basra subsea pipeline, which carries some 80 per cent of the country’s exports, can only handle 1.8 million b/d, while production capacity at Iraq’s southern oil fields has increased to 2.2 million b/d.