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Iraq Says Oil Output Will Rise; Akkas Gas Field Deal Next Week
Iraq, seeking to rebuild its energy industry after years of dispute, said oil production and export levels will rise this year and a delayed agreement to develop the Akkas natural-gas field will be signed next week.

Crude oil output is expected to exceed 3 million barrels a day by the end of the year, Abdul-Mahdi al-Ameedi, the head of the Oil Ministry’s licensing department, said during a news conference in Baghdad today. The increases are mainly from the Rumaila, Zubair and West Qurna fields, he said.

Iraq, home to the world’s fifth-biggest oil reserves, seeks foreign funding and expertise to help it boost energy exports needed to pay for modernizing an economy stunted by years of conflict and sanctions. Crude production has suffered in recent years from insufficient spending and insurgent attacks.

Crude exports from the northern autonomous Kurdistan region will resume “soon,” after a halt of more than a year following a conflict on oil sales proceeds with the central government, Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi said at the conference.

Iraq is exporting 2.1 million barrels of oil a day, which will increase next month, Falah al-Amri, head of the country’s State Oil Marketing Organization, said at the same event. About 60 percent of crude exports are sold to Asia, he said.

The Middle East country cut the price of its Basrah Light crude exports to Asia, the U.S. and Europe for February, SOMO said today in an e-mailed statement. Exports to Asia were cut to 10 cents a barrel below the average of Oman and Dubai grades, from a 20-cent premium for January, according to the price list.

Improved Efforts

Iraq’s oil output rose to 2.7 million barrels a day by the beginning of January, while crude exports increased to 2 million barrels a day from 1.95 million barrels in December, al-Luaibi said Jan. 2. The increases were due both to improved efforts by the country and investments by international companies that have signed contracts to develop Iraqi fields, he said.

Oil output was steady at about 2.4 million barrels a day after the U.S.-led invasion of 2003. The government has awarded 12 licenses for oil developments and three for gas, and oil ministry experts will hold meetings “within days” to prepare a preliminary draft for contracts to be auctioned in a fourth licensing round, al-Luaibi said at the time.

The agreement to develop the Akkas natural-gas field will be signed next week, after a two-month delay, al-Luaibi said during today’s news conference.

The ministry had planned to sign an agreement for Akkas on Nov. 14 with Korea Gas Corp., known as Kogas, and KazMunaiGaz National Co., Kazakhstan’s state fuel producer. Authorities in al-Anbar province, where the field is located, had been concerned that all of the gas from Akkas would be exported and they might not benefit from it.

Iraq Says Oil Output Will Rise; Akkas Gas Field Deal Next Week -  Source

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