Iraq earned more than $7bn from crude oil exports for a sixth consecutive month, with exports in August rising compared with the previous month, although revenues dipped by 2.5 per cent on lower crude oil prices.

According to data released by the Oil Ministry, total exports in August reached a total of 67.9 million barrels, up 1.04 per cent on July figures of 67.9 million barrels. Iraq’s peak exports this year came in May when it shipped more than 69 million barrels.

The Oil Ministry says production has risen to 2.81 million b/d, the highest level since the US-led invasion in 2003. Output at fields in the south of the country reached 2.113 million b/d and 697,000 b/d in the northern Kirkuk region.

September figures are expected to see a dip however, after production in the Kurdish region, which usually accounts for as much as 150,000 b/d dropped to 50,000 b/d due to an unexplained shutdown. Production at the Rumaila oil field in the south of the country was also briefly disrupted by a fire at a gas compression unit.

The country’s total oil receipts in August amounted to $7.124bn from exports of 2.19 million b/d to the Gulf, the Mediterranean and Jordan. Oil prices averaged $104.92 a barrel over the month, down 3.5 per cent on the $108.80 a barrel price seen in July.

With data for four months of the year remaining, Iraq’s total revenue for 2011 now stands at $55.73bn, surpassing the $52.25bn received in the whole of 2010.

Iraq’s cabinet has proposed a draft budget for 2012 with a substantial increase to public spending planned at $111bn compared to $82.6bn in 2011. No details have yet been released on Iraq’s average crude oil price assumption for the year, nor projected production levels, which form the vast majority of the government’s income (MEED 20:9:11).