BAGHDAD, (Reuters) – Work in Iraqi oilfields being developed by foreign oil companies is going ahead “normally” and faster than contracted, the country’s deputy prime minister for energy Hussain al-Shahristani said on Saturday.
Shahristani, who has responsibility for Iraq’s growing energy sector, said that there were no major delays in Iraq’s new export facilities being built to handle the extra crude from a series of deals signed with international oil companies.
“We are comfortable that new (oil) export outlets will be ready to received extra crude according to the plans to boost oil production with the contracted oil companies,” he said.
Current oil exports are 2.1 million bpd, the majority of which come from the southern oil hub of Basra.
The OPEC member needs to rapidly boost export facilities if it is to benefit from an expected large increase in production capacity. It plans to build new oil export pipelines that would carry crude from the southern oilfields to neigbouring Syria and Turney, and at least four new floating ports in the south.
Iraq has signed a series of deals with foreign oil companies that aim to boost its production capacity to 12 million bpd by 2017, which would make it a close rival to global oil giant Saudi Arabia. However, most analysts say 6-7 million bpd is a more realistic target.
“I am glad to inform you that development plans for the oilfields are going ahead normally, and faster than contracted,” Shahristani told a gathering of senior Iraqi and United Nations officials in Baghdad.
Shahristani, a former oil minister who was promoted to deputy prime minister for energy in December, said he expected Iraq’s crude oil production to reach 3 million bpd before the end of this year, from 2.7 million bpd now.
Iraq also expects crude oil output to reach 3.3 million bpd in 2012, and 6.5 million bpd in 2014, he said.
Foreign oil companies are expected to invest more than $150 billion in the fields they are developing to reach their targets, he said. Associated gas production from oil deals Iraq awarded in two auctions in 2009 is expected to reach about 8 billion cubic feet per day