Iraq earned record high revenues from crude oil exports for a fifth consecutive month, reaching almost $7.5bn in May, despite a drop in oil prices in the month.

Oil prices averaged $108.26 a barrel, down 5.3 per cent on the price in April, which topped $114 a barrel. However, May crude oil receipts increased by 1.7 per cent on April as the country’s exports into both the Gulf and Mediterranean rose to 2.23 million barrels a day (b/d).

According to data released by the Oil Ministry, approximately 69 million barrels of crude oil were exported in May, up by 7.5 per cent on the 64.2 million barrels exported in April. Iraq exported a total of 58.7 million barrels in May 2010, earning $4.3bn.

Exports from the north of the country through the pipeline from Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan totalled 15.5 million barrels or approximately 500,0000 b/d, up from 480,000 b/d in March.

Exports through oil terminals at Basra and Khor Alamya in the Gulf, which form the majority of Iraq’s crude shipments, amounted to 53.5 million barrels or 1.73 million b/d. This is up from 49.7 million barrels in April.

The Basra subsea pipeline, which carries some 80 per cent of the country’s exports, can only handle 1.8 million b/d, but state-owned South Oil Company plans to boost capacity to 4.5 million b/d in three phases.

Construction of the first phase was awarded in September 2010 to Australia’s Leighton Offshore, who will build three offshore single-point mooring stations (SPMs). One is scheduled for completion before the end of 2011, while the remaining two SPMs are scheduled for completion by March 2012. Bids have been submitted for the second and third phase expansions (MEED 10:6:11).

To see Iraq’s oil export data, click here: