Iraq's oil minister says crude oil exports from the country's southern ports inched up last month.

Jabar Ali al-Luaibi says the exports for the first time stood at 3.510 million barrels per day in December, describing that level in a statement on Monday as the "highest and unprecedented" yet.

The oil comes from government-controlled fields in central and southern Iraq. November daily exports from those export facilities stood at 3.407 million barrels.

Al-Luaibi lauded his ministry's plans and the work of a handful of international oil companies developing the country's prized southern fields.

Iraq holds the world's fourth largest oil reserves, with some 143.1 billion barrels. Oil revenues make up nearly 95 percent of Iraq's budget. Like other oil exporting countries, its economy has been hit by plummeting oil prices.