Iraq’s crude oil exports fell to the lowest level for almost two years in September, while it carried out maintenance at the ports and terminals in the south of the country.

Total revenues from crude oil exports for September fell to $6.51bn, down 22 per cent from $8.36bn in August, according to the latest data released by the Oil Ministry.

Crude oil prices were relatively stable, averaging $104.87 a barrel, just a few cents higher than the $104.45 a barrel price in August.

Exports from Basra fell to just 1.82 million barrels a day (b/d) from 2.31 million b/d in August, a drop of 500,000 b/d. Total export volumes dropped to 62.1 million barrels from 80 million barrels.

The reduction in shipments was caused by scheduled maintenance at the southern ports and the newly installed single-point mooring stations (SPMs) in the Gulf. Two more SPMs are due for commissioning in 2014, taking Iraq’s southern oil export capacity to 6.5 million b/d from 4.5 million b/d currently.

The drop in exports was also attributed to attacks on the Iraq-Turkey export pipeline in the north of Iraq, according to Oil Ministry spokesman, Asim Jihad.

Upstream production has also fallen, with analyst estimates that output dropped by 400,000 b/d. Iraq’s oil officials are upbeat, however, that production will rebound as the Majnoon and Gharraf oil fields ramp up production. The West Qurna-2 field is also due to come onstream in early 2014.

Thamir Ghadban, a former Oil Minister and now adviser to the cabinet  says he expects production to reach more than 3.5 million b/d by the end of the year, but average more than 3 million b/d this year, just up from the 2012 average.