Federal Iraq’s March export figures, released by state marketer Somo on 1 April, cast a dark shadow over the country’s all-important oil sector – and the worst is yet to come. Despite crude exports staying flat with February’s 3.38mn b/d, monthly export revenues plummeted 46% from $5.53bn to just $2.99bn for March, their lowest level since the grim days of 2016 (see chart 1).

Estimates vary, but Ministry of Finance figures suggest that Iraq needs $5.5bn in monthly revenues (of which 90%+ come from oil) to maintain current spending, and $6.5bn to cover current spending plus investment. Anything below $4bn and basic government functions (including salary payments) become a major struggle. (CONTINUED - 1579 WORDS)