Updated from 11:37 a.m. EDT

Oil prices fell from a record high Tuesday after Iraq resumed exports from its southern termimals.

Nymex crude for September delivery settled down 32 cents, or 0.7%, at $44.52 a barrel. Prices briefly surpassed Monday's record close, breaking $45 for the first time in the contract's 21-year history.

Oil's main catalyst has shifted in the last 24 hours from the legal problems afflicting Russian exporter Yukos to the threat of insurgent violence in southern Iraq, which had been producing almost 2 million barrels of oil a day. Iraq halted exports Monday after another attack on a pipeline feeding offshore terminals.

Rebels allied with Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr blew up a portion of a pipeline that connects Basra to its tanker terminals in the Persian Gulf. Another conduit was closed for fear it would be next.

Tuesday morning's easing followed reassurances from Iraqi officials that the damage was minor and shipments could resume as early as Wednesday.

The Yukos situation remained extremely convoluted, with the latest reports indicating Russian law-enforcement authorities have again moved to seize the company's main production subsidiary.

The company, which produces about 2% of the world's oil, has been battling for its life amid government efforts to collect a tax bill that allegedly comes to more than $3 billion.