Iraq exported 58.7 million barrels of crude oil in May, earning the country $4.3bn in revenues, according to data released by the Oil Ministry. The average price of oil for the month of May was $73.85 a barrel.

Of the total exports, 45.1 million barrels were exported from Basrah in the south for $3.35bn. Exports from Kirkuk in the north totaled 13.6 million barrels, up 6.6 per cent on April figures, earning $988m. Iraq exports its crude oil through the Basrah Oil Terminal, Khor Alamya Oil Terminal in the Gulf, the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline terminal in Turkey and by trucks to Jordan.

The Oil Ministry hopes to increase oil production by 600,000 barrels a day (b/d) to 3.1 million b/d in 2011.

Iraq has exported a total of 291.3 million barrels of crude oil so far this year, netting the country $21.6bn.

Iraq’s largest producing oil field is the giant Rumaila oil field in the south of the country, which contains some 17 billion barrels in crude oil reserves. UK oil major, BP and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) were awarded the field in Iraq’s oil field licensing rounds in 2009 and have committed to raising production to 2.85 million b/d from the current 1 million b/d.

The partners awarded $500m worth of new drilling contracts in March to Chinese drilling company Daqing, US oilfield services firms, Schlumberger and Weatherford (MEED 31:3:10).

Iraq has only a sliver of shoreline, pinched between Iran and Kuwait. The Umm Qasr port handles more than 80 per cent of the country’s Iraq’s imports, while Basrah oil terminal and Khor Alamya handle approximately 77 per cent of its oil exports.

The terminals will struggle to cope as production increases, but Iraq plans to enhance capacity, as well as rebuilding the Faw onshore depot. The expansion of Basrah oil terminal is currently underway, with a floating terminal scheduled for completion by the end of 2012. A number of contracts have so far been awarded for preparation work, which includes surveys, engineering and the detection and disposal of unexploded ordnance.

According to some Iraqi analysts, Iraq must also concentrate on rehabilitating its south to north pipeline network, which previously handled some 900,000 b/d. The addition of new pipeline capacity taking oil to the north and west of Iraq would provide greater flexibility in exports away from the south.