Iraq’s oil exports in July dipped compared with the previous month, but revenues rose by 2 per cent on higher crude oil prices, earning the country more than $7bn for a fifth consecutive month.

According to data released by the Oil Ministry, total exports in July reached a total of 67.2 million barrels, down 1.47 per cent on June figures of 68.2 million barrels.

The country’s total oil receipts in July amounted to $7.31bn from exports of 2.17 million barrels a day (b/d) to the Gulf, the Mediterranean and Jordan. Oil prices averaged $108.80 a barrel for the month, up 3.4 per cent on the $105.18 a barrel price seen in June.

Total revenue now stands at $48.6bn and Iraq is well on its way to reaching its target of more than $80bn in oil receipts for the year, should oil prices remain high. This would represent an increase of 53 per cent on 2010 revenues, which totalled only $52.2bn.

Baghdad’s budget of $82.6bn for the year was approved in February and is based on an average oil price of $76.50 a barrel for the year, and average exports of 2.2 million b/d (MEED 22:2:11).

Exports from the north of the country through a pipeline from Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan totalled 14.2 million barrels, or 460,000 b/d, down 13 per cent from June.

However, exports through the southern oil terminals at Basra and Khor Alamya into the Gulf, which form the majority of the country’s crude shipments amounted to 53 million barrels, or 1.71 million b/d.

Iraq currently produces approximately 2.55 million b/d of oil. In June, some 2.2 million b/d is exported, while 578,000 b/d is supplied to its refineries and another 63,000 b/d to power stations across the country. As Iraq swelters in the heat of summer, more crude has been set aside to meet growing local demand for power.

Production in the south of the country is currently below the Oil Ministry’s target of 2.75 million b/d, constrained by “security concerns, antiquated pipeline and storage infrastructure, byzantine bureaucratic structures and labour unrest”, according to the US’ Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

Exports are constrained by the capacity of Iraq’s terminals. The Oil Ministry plans to increase capacity to 4.5 million b/d from the current 1.8 million b/d.

On 17 August, it awarded Italy’s Saipem a $471.7m engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to build a single-point mooring buoy (SPM) with an export capacity of 900,000 b/d and a 50-kilometre pipeline to transport crude from storage depots in the southern Faw peninsula. Construction is expected to be completed in two years (MEED 22:7:11).

The deal follows a $733m contract signed by Australia’s Leighton Offshore in September 2010 for the first phase expansion. Leighton has also been recommended to the Finance Ministry for approval on the final stage of the scheme.