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Iraq Oil Exports Fall for Second Month on Attacks, Dust

Iraq’s crude exports and oil revenue declined in June for the second month because of bad weather at the country’s ports and attacks on northern pipelines, the oil ministry said.

Shipments from OPEC’s second-largest producer after Saudi Arabia dropped to 69.8 million barrels, Asim Jihad, a ministry spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement from Baghdad. Exports in June generated $6.8 billion, he said, equating to 2.33 million barrels a day. Iraq shipped 76.9 million barrels in May and 78.7 million in April, earning $7.48 billion and $7.76 billion, respectively, according to the ministry’s website.

The decrease in sales last month stemmed from repeated sabotage of the pipeline network from Iraq’s northern oil hub of Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, together with high winds and dust storms that halted loadings at southern terminals, Jihad said yesterday. Pumping to Ceyhan resumed today after a technical fault halted the flow following a pipeline leak near Nineveh in northern Iraq, according to the state-run North Oil Co. The self-governing Kurdish region has stopped exporting since December amid a dispute with the central government.

“I expect July crude exports to also drop because of the continued attacks on the pipeline and as repair works and maintenance seem to be struggling to maintain the integrity of the line,” said Saadallah al-Fathi, a Dubai-based former head of the Energy Studies Department at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna. “Any halt to the exports, even for one day, is a concern for Iraq and benefits other producers because there is plenty of crude in the world.”

Crude Reserves

Iraq, with the world’s fifth-largest proven oil reserves, has been boosting output and rebuilding its economy. Exxon Mobil Corp., OAO Lukoil and other international companies helped boost production by 24 percent in 2012. Monthly exports reached 81.3 million barrels last October, the most since U.S.-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein from power in 2003.

The government said yesterday it plans to set up three new companies to provide oil and natural gas services and transportation with a combined capital of 500 billion dinars ($429 million), according to its official website.

Iraq last month exported 64 million barrels from the southern port of Basra and 5.8 million barrels from Kirkuk, according to Jihad, the spokesman. It earned an average price of $97.41 a barrel in June, he said.

“It is known that Iraq has an average of 50 days of bad weather a year in the south, but what is worrying is the attacks and the maintenance works in the north,” said al-Fathi, a former adviser to Iraq’s oil ministry.

Car bombings and other violent acts are threatening to undermine the country’s stability and reconstruction efforts after decades of economic sanctions, conflict and neglect.

Hundreds of extremists, including many from the al-Qaeda terror network, escaped from two jails on July 21 after coordinated deadly attacks on the facilities, lawmaker Hakem al-Zamli told reporters in Baghdad.

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