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Iraq oil sales recover from lows, but still below peak

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Iraq's oil exports in October recovered from a 19-month low, but remained far below their peak due to ongoing maintenance and sabotage of pipelines, figures released on Saturday showed.

Iraq exported 69.8 million barrels of oil in October, or 2.25 million barrels per day, resulting in overall revenues of $7.16 billion (5.28 billion euros), according to the oil ministry.

The figures marked an increase from September's 19-month low of 2.07 million bpd, but remained below the 2.62 million bpd exported in April.

"There was an increase in the amount of production compared to September, despite ongoing maintenance in the southern terminals and the suspension of pumping along the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline several times due to sabotage," the ministry statement said.

Most of Iraq's crude is exported via its southern terminals near the port city of Basra, but a significant portion goes through a northern pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

The southern terminals have been undergoing maintenance in recent weeks, and the Ceyhan pipeline is often attacked by militants, causing pumping to be suspended.

Such an attack occurred as recently as November 2, when insurgents bombed the pipeline and disabled it. The blast did not cause any casualties.

Iraq is heavily dependent on oil exports, and the government is seeking to dramatically ramp up its sales in the coming years to fund the reconstruction of its battered infrastructure.

Officials are aiming to increase production capacity to nine million bpd by 2017, a target that the International Monetary Fund and International Energy Agency have warned is over-optimistic.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131123/iraq-oil-sales-recover-lows-still-below-peak