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Iraqi Crude Exports Rose in January for First Time Since October

Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Iraq’s crude oil exports rose in January for the first monthly gain since October, according to the marketing unit of the OPEC member state’s Oil Ministry.

Iraqi shipments increased last month to 73.1 million barrels, or an average of 2.35 million barrels a day, compared with 72.8 million barrels, or 2.34 million barrels a day, in December, the State Oil Marketing Organization said in a statement on its website. The country generated $7.67 billion in revenue from January crude sales at an average price of $104.92 a barrel, according to the SOMO statement.

Iraq, the largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia, shipped 64.9 million barrels by sea last month from the southern terminal of Basra and exported 8.2 million barrels from the northern hub of Kirkuk through a pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, SOMO said. Total exports rose to 81.3 million barrels in October before declining in November and December, it said.

The Middle Eastern nation holds the world’s fifth-largest crude reserves, according to data from BP Plc that include Canadian oil sands. The government depends on crude sales for money to rebuild the economy after decades of war and sanctions. It has awarded energy-exploration licenses to companies such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc and Total SA since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.

Iraq’s average crude output dropped to 3.2 million barrels a day in January from 3.3 million barrels a day the previous month, according to a Jan. 31 Oil Ministry statement. The decrease in output resulted from bad weather, technical faults, sabotage and a halt in exports of much as 250,000 barrels a day from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, the ministry said at the time.

Exxon Mobil Corp., DNO International ASA and Genel Energy Plc are among companies caught in a dispute between Iraq’s central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government over production contracts, territorial claims and the sharing of oil revenue. Tensions have deepened in recent months, with armed clashes in the disputed Kirkuk area in November and a suspension since December in exports of Kurdish oil through the central government’s pipeline network.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kadhim Ajrash in Baghdad at kajrash@bloomberg.net; Nayla Razzouk in Dubai at nrazzouk2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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