Iraq’s total crude oil exports rose by 1.6 million barrels in July, up 2.8 per cent compared to the previous month, to 56.3 million barrels and earning the country $4bn in revenues, according to data released by the Oil Ministry.

The Basra province in south Iraq exported 44.4 million barrels though its oil terminals at Basra and Khor Alamya in the Gulf. This is an increase of 2.7 per cent on June. The exports netted $3.137bn at an average price of $71.21 a barrel.

Around 11.9 million barrels were exported from the northern Kirkuk region via pipeline to the Turkish Ceyhan port on the Mediterranean, earning Iraq $872m. The region exported 11.5 million barrels in June (MEED 27:7:10).

According a July report by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), Iraq “will have difficulty increasing its oil production in 2010 primarily because of obsolete infrastructure and diminished production from the fields around Kirkuk”.

Iraq’s total oil revenues for 2010 stand at $54.6bn. According to the 2010 budget, the Finance Ministry will pay $1 for each barrel of oil produced in each region as a way of distributed oil proceeds to the regional authorities. This will be a major windfall for the Basra province, which hosts four of Iraq’s five biggest oil fields and accounts for almost 80 per cent of oil exports this month.

The provision has caused resentment, as it is seen as unfairly favours producing regions, with little benefit to provinces such as Anbar in the west, which has little in the way of hydrocarbon resources.

Oil infrastructure has been subject to a number of attacks so far this year including for the first time, oil pipelines protected by the Pipeline Exclusion Zone.