The slowdown is likely due to a perfect storm of accidents, insurgents and a lack of electricity and fuels.
Iraq exported 1.82 million barrels per day in December, according to data published on the ministry's Web site. That increased to 1.92 million bpd in January and 1.93 million bpd last month -- $5 billion in oil revenue for February using the ministry averaged crude price at $89.79 per barrel.
The U.S. State Department's Iraq Weekly Status Report shows Iraq's oil income at $13.1 billion through March 19. Iraq's entire 2008 budget is $49 billion.
Exports from the north to Turkey have increased December through February, near doubling in overall flow and more than doubling revenues as the average price per barrel increased by more than $6. This is largely a result of an enhanced security structure and maintenance of the Kirkuk to Ceyhan, Turkey, pipeline.
"Recently, the pipeline resumed exporting about 250,000 to 350,000 bpd," Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told United Press International. "We are hoping to increase the production to 500,000 bpd."
Exports from Basra have decreased. Iraq's oil capital and Persian Gulf port city, its oil industry has seen relatively few insurgent attacks and typically shoulders the oil economy of about 80 percent of the country's production and about 90 percent of exports. But sales from there of 1.63 million bpd in December dropped to 1.54 million bpd in February, according to the ministry's most current published data.
Separate documents detailing December and January overall production show it dropping from nearly 2.3 million bpd to just under 2.1 million bpd. Supply to refineries and power plants also declined.
The New Year saw fires at Iraq's main refineries and insurgent attacks on power lines, both of which negatively affect the ability to produce crude. And with upward momentum in production already, more crude was directed out of the country, as Iraqis languished in an ongoing shortage of fuels and electricity.
Ben Lando, UPI Energy Editor