BASRA: Oil exports from Iraq rose to a record 2.8 million barrels per day (bpd) on average in February, Deputy Prime Minister for energy Hussain al-Shahristani told reporters on Saturday.
The figure was up from 2.228 million bpd in January thanks to the completion of work expanding the capacity of the southern Basra port, from which the bulk of Iraq's crude is shipped.
"These projects which we carried out relating to development and production have enabled Iraq to produce 3.5 million barrels per day and to export 2.8 million barrels per day, which is a historic figure," Shahristani told reporters at the Basra refinery as he attended a ceremony for the opening of new units.
Production reached 3.5 million bpd in February and Shahristani said if the autonomous Kurdistan region had pumped its share, the figure would have hit 4 million.
Current Kurdish production capacity stands below 400,000 bpd, and around one third of that is refined locally.
The Kurds are at loggerheads with the Iraqi central government over oil rights, and stopped exporting crude via the national network more than one year ago.
Since then, they have been exporting smaller quantities on their own terms by truck, whilst building a separate pipeline to Turkey, enraging Baghdad, which claims sole authority to manage all Iraqi oil.
Of the 2.8 million bpd exported in February, 2.5 million came from Basra, Shahristani said.
The rest was exported from the northern Kirkuk oilfields via a pipeline to Turkey that has repeatedly been sabotaged.
Iraq also used to export between 10,000-12,000 bpd of crude by truck across the border to Jordan, but conflict in the western province of Anbar put a halt to that this year. (Reuters)