Iraq scores its first oil find in decades

Baghdad (CNN) — Iraq’s state-owned oil exploration company has made the country’s first oil find in 30 years, an Oil Ministry spokesman said Monday.

The company found at least a billion barrels of crude under the ground in a southeastern province near the border with Iran, spokesman Assim Jihad said Monday.

The discovery in Maysan, about 350 kilometers (215 miles) south of Baghdad, is a “significant achievement” for the country, Jihad said.

Despite vast reserves and reliance on oil for government income, exploration in Iraq has been hindered by decades of conflict.

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With the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves, Iraq’s government depends on oil revenues to fund more than 90% of its budget.

The discovery comes seven months after exploratory drilling began, Jihad said.

Iraq produces 3.2 million barrels of oil a day, exporting 72% of it, he said.

In 2010, Iraqi officials estimated the country had 143 billion barrels of extractable oil, most of it in the southern oil fields.

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