* July oil exports highest since 2003 U.S.-led invasion
* Basra exports at 1.493 mln bpd; Kirkuk at 544,000
(Adds details, background)
BAGHDAD, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Iraq’s oil exports in July rose to 2.037 million barrels per day (bpd), the highest level since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, Falah Alamri, head of the State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO) said on Sunday.
The monthly average in June was 1.925 million bpd.
Alamri said July’s figure could have been higher, but Iraqi domestic consumption of crude had increased.
“It’s the highest figure since the invasion ... The investments that have been made (in the oil sector) have paid dividends,” Alamri said.
The provisional average price per barrel in July was between $60 and $61, Alamri said. Exports from Iraq’s southern oil hub of Basra reached 1.493 mln bpd, and exports from Kirkuk in Iraq’s north were 544,000 bpd, he said.
Iraq has been struggling to increase output and export levels for years, part of the government’s plan to reinvent a sector that boasts the world’s third largest oil reserves but is shackled by decades of war, sanctions and decay.
As part of Iraq’s plans to increase production, it has auctioned contracts to foreign firms to develop its oil fields. The next auction is to be held at the end of November. (Reporting by Yara Bayoumy, writing by Mohammed Abbas: Editing by Alison Williams)