Iraq's crude oil exports jump in February

By By The Associated Press

BAGHDAD — A senior Iraqi official says

daily oil exports have shot up in February to 2.8 million barrels from

nearly

2.3 million barrels in the previous month, thanks to a small group

of international oil companies developing oil fields and

export infrastructure.

Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister for energy, Hussain al-Shahristani, also said Saturday in the southern oil-rich city of Basra

that average production, including the exports, exceeded 3.5 million barrels per day last month. Al-Shahristani described

the figures as "unprecedented."

Iraq's daily oil production and exports have climbed steadily since 2011, nearly two years after Iraq awarded rights to develop

its major oil fields to international oil companies. It holds the world's fourth largest oil reserves, some 143.1 billion

barrels, and oil revenues make up nearly 95 percent of its budget.