Iraq earned almost $8.5bn from crude oil exports in March, its highest level since the toppling of Saddam Hussain, bolstered by higher oil prices and increased oil export capacity in the south of the country.

March revenues rose by 28 per cent compared with February, with the export of 71.8 million barrels of crude oil, or 2.32 million barrels a day (b/d), according to the latest figures released by the Oil Ministry.

Daily export figures from the south of Iraq to the Gulf were boosted by 17 per cent to 1.92 million b/d by the opening of a 900,000-b/d new single-point mooring station (SPM) near the Basra Oil Terminal on 12 February. 

However, just a week after loading its first shipment on 8 March, operations at the SPM were halted due to technical issues. By 27 March, the SPM had resumed loading. Nevertheless, about 59.4 million barrels were shipped from the southern region.

Pumping capacity limitations at the Al-Fao storage facility, which supplies oil to the offshore SPM, means that for now the SPM can only export at about half its design capacity. If State Oil Marketing Organization (Somo) is able to sustain its shipments in April, Iraq will be on course to export as much as 2.5 million b/d.

Southern oil export revenues totalled $6.99bn, compared with $5.35bn in February. Iraq’s average oil prices were up in March to $117.99 a barrel, against $112.93 in February.

Exports through the northern oil export pipeline were also up by 6.4 per cent  to 400,000 b/d, from 376,000 b/d in February. The pipeline, which runs from the Kirkuk field to the port of Ceyhan in Turkey, carried a total of 12.4 million barrels despite exports being briefly cut by sabotage.

The semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) halted their contribution of crude to the pipeline in early April and this is expected to be reflected in the next set of figures to be released.