For the first time since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said that Iraq’s crude output has risen above 3 million barrels a day. Iraq pumped 3.08 million barrels a day in July, 115,000 barrels more than the previous month.
The Persian Gulf state for a second month outpaced Iran, whose output dropped by 173,000 barrels to 2.82 million. Iraq last produced more than 3 million barrels in February 2002, OPEC said after revising its April estimate.
The reduction from Iran came as full sanctions by the EU started July 1, which led to the third monthly decline in the group’s output. OPEC, which supplies 40 percent of the world’s oil, produced 31.2 million barrels a day in July against 31.35 million in June, according to OPEC data.
Iraqi production is increasing as overseas investors such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP Plc develop new fields and rework older deposits. The country has held several licensing rounds for oil and gas fields since the end of Saddam Hussein’s rule and more than two decades of stagnation caused by wars, sanctions and underinvestment.