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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Iraq's first oil exports due
US troops guarding Kirkuk refinery
Looting has dented export hopes
Iraq will resume oil exports on 22 Sunday June, officials in Turkey and Iraq have confirmed.

A ceremony is scheduled to mark the occasion on Sunday, when the first barrels of Iraqi oil will be loaded for shipment from the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Recently-appointed Iraqi oil minister Thamir Abbas Ghadhban and Phillip Carroll, the US advisor to Iraqi oil officials, are expected to attend.

The oil cargo will be the first to leave Iraq since the US-led invasion began on 20 March.

The export of crude oil is the primary way for Iraq to secure foreign revenue and get its defunct economy back on track.

The proceeds from the exports will be channelled into an Anglo-American controlled trust to be used for Iraq's reconstruction.

Falling short

The United Nations' recent decision to lift all sanctions on Iraqi exports other than arms has paved the way for the battered country to begin cashing in on its natural resources once again.

But damage to oil installations during post-war looting has squashed hopes of a rapid build-up in the quantity of exports.

Iraq holds the world's second largest reserves of oil, but decades of war, sanctions and negligible investment mean it will take some years to reach its potential peak output.

By mid-July, Iraq hopes to be exporting about 600-700,000 barrels a day, with another 300-400,000 barrels produced for domestic consumption.

That is much below the previous target of pumping up to 1.5 million barrels by the end of June, and the 2.5 million barrels pumped daily before the war.

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