Iraq West Qurna to hit 750K barrels per day

BAGHDAD (AP) — Production from Iraq’s prized West Qurna Stage 1 oil field should more than triple to 750,000 barrels a day in three years time, an oil official said Sunday.

The 8.6 billion barrel field, which is being developed by a consortium grouping Exxon Mobil and Shell, was among those awarded by Iraq during one its first international oil licensing rounds last year and is seen as a key part of the country’s drive to boost overall output of a resource on which it relies for 95 percent of its foreign revenues.

West Qurna Stage 1 currently produces 234,000 barrels per day, Mahdi Swadi, the head of the joint management commission that runs the field, told The Associated Press. Output is set to climb to 270,000 barrels per day by May, he said.

Although Iraq sits on the world’s fourth largest oil reserves, with 143.1 billion barrels according to the government’s latest estimates, it is producing and exporting far below its potential. Foreign companies are seen as key to reviving the sector and ramping up output.

Under the agreement between Iraq and the companies, production from the West Qurna Stage I field should reach 2.825 million barrels a day after 6 to 7 years. The consortium will be paid $1.9 per barrel for each barrel produced.

That production target is up from the 2.325 million barrels a day target when the deal was announced last fall.

The consortium was originally only allowed to pump oil from one reservoir, but five more reservoirs were added to the field over the summer.

Swadi said this year’s budget to develop the field stood at $306 million, and next year’s budget is expected to be about $1.1 billion.

There are currently 360 wells at the field, and the consortium is planning to start up about 2,000 more over their contract’s 20-year duration.

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