x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Iraq sets targets for oil exports

Iraq plans to raise its oil exports from its current 2.6 million barrels per day to 6 million in 2017, helped by foreign investment in the sector.

Iraq plans to raise its oil exports from its current 2.6 million barrels per day (bpd) to 6 million in 2017, helped by foreign investment in the sector.

The oil-rich country has been increasing export capacity as production levels touched 2.565 million bpd last month, the highest level in more than 30 years.

Oil shipments from Iraq are expected to reach 2.9 million bpd next year, 3.5 million in 2014, 3.75 million in 2015, 5 million in 2016 and 6 million in 2016, the oil minister Abdul Kareem Al Luaibi said yesterday. Current exports are at an average of 2.6 million bpd.

Foreign investment in developing oilfields in the country in the past two years, apart from Kurdistan, reached US$15 billion (Dh55.09bn), said Mr Al Luaibi. That is "a good figure amid the conditions Iraq is going through".

He said oil production next year would rise from Gharraf, Badra, Majnoon, Halfaya and Ahdab oilfields, without offering specifics.

Iraq, emerging from decades of war and sanctions, has become the focus of attention as it rebuilds the infrastructure of its lucrative oil sector after signing big deals with international oil majors to develop its southern oilfields.

Iraq has the world's fourth-largest oil reserves. Last month, it overtook Iran as the second-largest Opec oil producer for the first time since the 1980s. Baghdad and Erbil, the capital of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, have been at loggerheads over a number of issues, including the signing of oil contracts without the central government's consent and disputed territory in the northern region, such as Kirkuk.

The federal government offers per-barrel service fee contracts, while Kurdistan offers companies lucrative production-sharing agreements in which they can take a share of the output and book the reserves.

Last week, Baghdad ended a months-long oil dispute with the Kurdistan regional government over the settlement of payments to foreign oil companies working in the northern autonomous region.

Kurdistan stopped oil exports from April 1 to August 7 via the federal government over $1.5bn owed to companies operating in Iraqi Kurdistan that Baghdad has allegedly withheld, a Kurdistan official told the news agency AFP.

halsayegh@thenational

* with Bloomberg News