Iraq says can be top global oil producer.
Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani yesterday said he expected Iraq to become the world"s top oil producer in six to seven years, and that Opec should take into account Iraq"s need to rebuild its economy. Emerging from the shadow of war and keen to generate petrodollars to rebuild, Baghdad looks set to lift capacity to 12mn barrels per day in six or seven years, strengthening its hand for future negotiations on output quotas with Opec.
?We can"t find a reason to prevent Iraqi production becoming higher than any other Opec state or even states outside Opec. We expect that to happen in the next six to seven years with co-ordination and agreement with other Opec producers,? he said.
Iraq has signed a series of oilfield development deals with global oil firms ? which bid on prime fields at two energy auctions last year ? in a nation with the world"s third largest crude reserves, emerging from years of conflict and sanctions.
Unlike Opec"s 11 other members, Baghdad is not subject to the output targets the group uses to set supply levels. Opec exempted Iraq in the 1990s, when it was under sanctions.
?Iraq has been deprived of having a fair export level over the last years, during which we were not able to produce or export oil while other states got benefit from this and were able to export at higher levels,? Shahristani told reporters.
?Opec should put into consideration Iraq"s need for oil revenues to rebuild its economy and country. Iraq has a definite need for these revenues.?
Iraq said last week it expected to present to Opec partners in 2011 ideas for guidelines on new quotas when Baghdad"s plans to boost production capacity take shape.
The Opec oil producers group is likely to try to get Iraq to curb output rather than pump all its extra capacity onto the market, analysts say.
?We are not interested to flood the market with oil. Our future policy is to get higher revenues for Iraq rather than higher production and flooding the market,? Shahristani said.
Meanwhile, the head of the State Oil Marketing Organisation said yesterday that Iraq"s supergiant Rumaila oilfield will begin producing an extra 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) by the beginning of July
?I expect we will get 100,000 barrels additional production from Rumaila field at the beginning of July,? Falah Alamri told an economic conference in the Iraqi capital.
British Petroleum and China"s CNPC signed a 20-year development contract last year for Rumaila, which was agreed to have a baseline production of 1.066mn bpd.
On Thursday, Iraq signed a final deal with a group led by Russia"s Gazprom to develop its eastern Badrah oilfield, which has estimated reserves of 100mn barrels of oil.
Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of the giant Russian oil company, is teaming up with Turkey"s TPAO, South Korea"s Kogas and Malaysia"s Petronas for the field, which is near Iraq"s border with Iran.
?Very soon we"ll have a meeting with our partners, hopefully in February, and then we will start implementing the project,? Metin Korucu, a senior official at TPAO, said after the signing ceremony.
The consortium will invest a total of $3.52bn to pump 170,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) from Badrah, Kogas said It said it would invest 1.05bn into the project.
The group agreed to a $5.50 per barrel fee at Iraq"s second oilfield auction in December. Gazprom owns 40% of the venture. Kogas holds 30%, Petronas 20% and TPAO has a 10-percent stake.
Deals coming from the two oilfield auctions last year may raise Iraqi oil output capacity in seven years to 12mn bpd from the current 2.5mn bpd.
Boris Zilbermints, Gazprom Neft"s deputy chief executive for exploration and production, said in December the company would invest $2bn in developing Badrah and expected to pump the first crude from the field within three years.
It plans to reach full production of 170,000 barrels per day within six to seven years of signing the contract, he said.