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Iraq oil exports hit post-war highs-minister

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq has raised oil output and exports to their highest levels since the 2003 U.S. invasion, its oil minister said in an interview on Sunday.

“The export figures for May were more than 2 million barrels per day and we have exceeded our previous export and production figures,” Hussein al-Shahristani told Reuters.

“The figures for April and March were less than that. In May we have exceeded for the first time a 2 million barrels per day export rate. In production we have exceeded 2.5 million bpd,” said Shahristani.

He said Iraq expects to pump between 2.8 and 2.9 million bpd by the end of 2008.

Shahristani said government crackdowns had enabled Iraq to protect its pipelines from sabotage and keep the country on course to implement a 10-year plan to boost both crude oil output and exports.

The minister said he was encouraged because Iraqi forces were able to improve security for energy facilities with limited support from U.S.-led coalition forces.

Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by David Holmes