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Last Updated: Monday, 2 January 2006, 12:16 GMT
Iraq oil exports hit post-war low
Workers at an Iraqi oil facility
Ongoing security problems have hit oil production
Iraq's oil exports in December fell to their lowest level since the official end of the conflict in 2003, Iraqi interim government figures have shown.

Last month's exports totalled 1.1 million barrels per day, down from November's 1.2 million figure.

Shamkhi Faraj, the government's director general of economics and oil marketing, blamed the fall on the security situation.

He added that bad weather at southern ports was also a contributory factor.

This halted exports for more than a week last month.

Death threats

The ongoing security problem in Iraq caused the closure of Iraq's largest oil refinery towards the end of December.

The refinery in the northern town of Baiji shut following death threats to tanker drivers.

"The exports fell back because of the security situation," said Mr Faraj.

"Exports from north are totally on hold."

Last Friday, Iraqi Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum was temporarily released from his post amid a dispute over the government's petrol pricing policy.

Mr Bahr al-Uloum had publicly objected to the Iraqi government's decision to raise petrol prices threefold.

He was replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi.

On Monday Mr Uloum submitted his resignation.

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