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The Guardian: Iraqi Oil Output Increases in December

Saturday January 12, 2008 6:01 PM
By SINAN SALAHEDDIN
Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD (AP) – Iraq’s average oil output rose again in December, marking a roughly 30 percent increase since the start of 2007, the country’s oil ministry said Saturday.

The average output last month reached 2.475 million barrels per day, according to figures released by the State Oil Marketing Company. In January 2007, output was 1.9 million barrels.

Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that removed Saddam Hussein from power, Iraqi production has mostly hovered between 1.7 million and 2 million barrels per day, according to the International Energy Agency. Its prewar production was 2.58 million barrels per day.

Iraq, the holder of the world’s third-largest crude oil reserves with an estimated 115 billion barrels, aims to boost production to 3 million barrels per day by the end of 2008.

The December figures brought the total average of the Iraqi output for 2007 to 2.181 million barrels per day, a rise of 28,000 barrels per day over 2006.

The figures released Saturday also showed that exports nearly exceeded 1.9 million barrels per day: about 1.6 million from Basra in the south and more than 300,000 from Kirkuk in the north.

The average production in December from northern fields stood at about 536,000 barrels per day, 14,000 more than in November. Production from southern fields also rose to 1.939 million barrels per day from 1.88 million in November.

In dire need of expertise from international oil companies, Iraq early this month decided to rely on the Saddam-era law until a new law is approved. It set a Jan. 31 deadline for international oil firms to register to compete for tenders to help develop a number of oil and gas fields.

The draft law has been under negotiation for nearly a year and is stuck in disputes between the Kurds, who want decentralized control over the oil sector, and Iraqi Arab leaders who want the national government in charge.

Last week, Iraqi Oil Ministry said it was negotiating with Royal Dutch Shell PLC to conduct output tests on the Akkas natural gas field in western Iraq as part of negotiations with four other companies to develop number of oil and gas fields.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-7220164,00.html

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