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Iraq oil output may hit 8 mln bpd by 2017

Iraq has signed deals with international oil companies following auctions last year.

November 29, 2010 1:50 by

Iraq could more than triple oil output by 2017, a former oil minister said on Monday effectively cutting previous estimates but giving a figure which would nevertheless make Iraq one of the world’s top producers.

Iraq has signed deals with international oil companies following auctions last year that could in theory take capacity to 12 million bpd by 2017 — a figure that most analysts view as unrealistic.

“I expect we will reach a capacity of 8 million barrels per day within the next six-seven years,” former Iraqi oil minister Thamir Ghadhban told a conference on Monday.

Analysts have cited undeveloped infrastructure and security concerns as the key obstacles preventing Iraq from reaching output of 12 million bpd – which would make it the world’s largest oil nation or put it at par with current leader Saudi Arabia.

The country, which sits on some of the world’s largest oil reserves, has struggled in the past years to push its output even close to 3 million bpd it saw in late 1980 before it invaded Kuwait and saw a U.S. military retaliation.

A Reuters poll showed last month Iraq’s crude oil output would rise to 2.8 million barrels per day by 2011 from roughly 2.5 million bpd now and reach only 4.6 million bpd by 2015.

Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani’s has said he expects 4 million bpd in three years’ time and that there is no need for Iraq — for now the only OPEC member exempt from its system of output curbs — to have a production target until then.

(Reporting by Emma Farge, writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by Sue Thomas)

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