Iraq's Oil Output Is Highest Since U.S.-Led Invasion
July 30 (Bloomberg) -- Iraq's daily oil production is at its highest level since the March 2003 U.S. invasion, in large part thanks to improved security, according to a Pentagon audit.
``Iraqi oil production set new records this quarter, with output reaching 2.43 million barrels per day, the highest quarterly average since the invasion,''Stuart Bowen, the Defense Department's inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, wrote in his 18th quarterly report to Congress on the expenditure of $50 billion in U.S. economic aid. Production fell to 1.3 million barrels a day during 2003.
A $34 million security system of ditches, fences and concertina wire has stopped attacks since July 2007 on the pipeline from Kirkuk in the north to a major refinery in Baiji, central Iraq, according to the report, which was released today. The result has been a substantial rise in crude oil exports from the north, Bowen said
``Iraq's burgeoning oil windfall, which has yielded more than $33 billion in revenues to date in 2008,'' may result in another $7 billion that could be spent on reconstruction as U.S. spending winds down, Bowen said. Analysts say Iraq has the world's third-largest reservoir of untapped crude oil.
Contributing to Iraq's improved security was the so-called surge of almost 30,000 U.S. military personnel that ended this month plus operations of the Iraq Security Forces, who cleared Muslim militias from Basra, Baghdad's Sadr City, Mosul and Amara, said Bowen, who for the third time this year reported increasing improvements in Iraq's security and economy.