The rejection of Russia has led the Middle Eastern country to emerge as the main alternative for obtaining the resource

Iraq's oil sales hit record highs for the fourth month in a row

photo_camera AFP/ ALI AL-SAADI - Tawke oil refinery near the village of Zacho in the Iraqi autonomous region of Kurdistan

Iraq continues to reach record oil sales figures. The country, for the fourth consecutive month, has become the world's main market for the precious resource and is causing the country to improve its economic level. According to the Ministry of Petroleum, at the end of last month oil exports reached 11.3 billion dollars, a figure not seen for decades. This means that in the month of June alone, more than 100 million barrels have been sold worldwide.

This is very good news for the Middle Eastern country, which is reaping important results for its economy. Data from Sumo, the main state-owned oil marketing company, indicates that a barrel of oil cost $112 a barrel in June and, each day, the nation is able to export 3.3 million barrels. Although this is a drop compared to March, when the barrel was around $140, it is still very good data for the country.

Campo petrol铆fero de Halfaya, perteneciente a la compa帽铆a PetroChina, en el distrito de al-Kahla, en la ciudad de Amara, al sur de Bagdad, el 26 de julio de 2022 AFP/ AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

The same company reports that total crude exports from the oil fields in the centre and south of the country amounted to 98 million barrels. This was followed by exports from Kirkuk through the port of Ceyhjan, which registered 2.9 million barrels.

The figures confirm that Iraq is already the world's largest crude oil market and the industry is already the country's source of financial income. These months of record figures are the highest rate of revenue in five decades, when sales exceeded $11 billion. In February, Iraq reaped the highest rate of crude oil exports and revenues in eight years at $8.5 billion. 

Yacimiento petrol铆fero de Zubair en Basora, Irak REUTERS/ESSAM AL-SUDANI

The Middle Eastern country's good figures are due to the fact that they have become the main alternative after the rejection and blockade of Russia. Moscow has been relegated to second place and the countries of the world are looking for viable options to cover their energy needs. Since the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine, Iraq has generated huge profits, raking in $60 billion in the first half of the year. The figures suggest that the country will double this figure as long as the price of oil remains above $100 a barrel.

"Iraq has the capacity to increase its oil production by 200,000 barrels per day this year if asked to do so," said Hassan Mohammed, deputy director of the Basra Oil Company.

The developments coincide with the visit of Joe Biden, the US president to the Middle East. He has visited the main OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) countries. During his tour, the leader tried to reach agreements on oil production with the aim of reducing the price of gasoline worldwide and diversifying production. 

Campo petrolero West Qurna-1, que es operado por ExxonMobil, en Basra, Irak REUTERS/ESSAM AL-SUDANI
An energy-rich yet energy-poor country

Iraq's economy is currently 90 per cent dependent on oil revenues. But despite this, the country suffers from a major energy shortage that began in 2003 with the US invasion.

Since then, the nation has been suffering from serious problems such as electricity and energy shortages, old or destroyed infrastructure, high youth unemployment, and dilapidated buildings. The World Bank states that Iraq has a youth unemployment rate of 40% and more than a third of the population, 40 million people, are poor. These are very worrying figures and it is hoped that these figures on oil sales will improve the situation.

Campo petrol铆fero de Rumaila en Basora, Irak REUTERS/ESSAM AL-SUDANI

To stabilise, Iraq would have to increase production at several oil fields, such as Qurna 1. This is one of the largest in the world and has the capacity to extract more than 20 billion barrels. It is also noted that export capacity would grow to three million barrels per day if subsea crude export infrastructure is reformed and two ports are built within two years. Now, there is an operational pipeline near the port of Khor al-Amaya and a similar one, together they have the capacity to harvest one million barrels per day by the end of 2024 if production is increased.

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