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Iraq Oil Ministry: Crude exports dipped by nearly 14 percent in January; bad weather blamed

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BAGHDAD — Iraq's Oil Ministry said on Thursday that crude exports averaged 2.535 million barrels a day in January, a decrease of nearly 14 percent from the previous month, depriving the nation of badly needed cash both for ongoing military operations against extremists and reconstruction efforts.

Last month's revenues stood at $3.258 billion, based on an average price of $41.45 per barrel, said the ministry's spokesman, Assem Jihad. December's exports averaged 2.941 million barrels a day, bringing that month's revenues to $5.161 billion.

Jihad blamed the bad weather that struck the area of the country's southern facilities on the Persian Gulf for more than two weeks for the exports' dip.

Iraq's 2015 budget is based on an expected oil price of $56 per barrel, with a daily export capacity of 3.3 million. The nearly 119.6 trillion Iraqi dinars budget (about $102.5 billion) runs with a deficit of 25 trillion dinars (about $21.4 billion).

Iraq has the world's fourth largest oil reserves, some 143.1 billion barrels, and oil revenues make up nearly 95 percent of its budget. The price of oil has fallen by about half since June to around $55 per barrel. Like other oil-producing countries, Iraq's economy has been affected by the plummeting oil prices.

Iraq was plunged into a major crisis last summer, when the Islamic State group swept across the north and west of the country, seizing vast swaths of territory, including the country's second largest city Mosul.

Government forces, Kurdish fighters and Shiite militias have since clawed back some of the territory with the help of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

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