By Kadhim Ajrash and Nayla Razzouk
(Updates with oilfield details in second paragraph.)
Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Iraq, the third-largest oil producer in OPEC, will boost output capacity this year to 3.4 million barrels a day and export capacity to 2.6 million barrels, Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi said.
Exports will benefit from a new offshore loading facility in the Persian Gulf that will go into service on Jan. 25, he said at a news conference in Baghdad. Iraq discovered an oil field called Al Deema 400 kilometers (250 miles) south of the capital in Al-Amarah province, al-Luaibi said today. The field contains “high reserves” of light crude, and workers are drilling wells to determine its size, he said.
Iraq holds the world’s fifth-largest crude deposits that also include Canadian oil sands, according to data from BP Plc. Production is rising after stagnating for years due to wars, economic sanctions and a lack of investment.
Output jumped in December to more than 3 million barrels a day, the highest level for at least 20 years, and exports rose last month to 2.2 million barrels a day, Hussain al-Shahristani, the deputy prime minister for energy affairs, said on Dec. 22.
The first of four single-point mooring facilities planned off Iraq’s southern coast will begin operating next week, Luaibi said. Each of them will add 850,000 barrels a day in capacity for exports of crude. The second mooring unit will be in place within six months, the third by the end of 2012 and the fourth in 2013, Shahristani said.
The government has granted 15 oil and gas licenses since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted former President Saddam Hussein. The Oil Ministry plans a new round of licenses for oil and natural-gas exploration on April 11-12.
--Editors: Bruce Stanley, Raj Rajendran
Iraq Says 2012 Oil Output to Reach 3.4 Million Barrels a Day - Source
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