BAGHDAD (AP) - An Iraqi oil official says China's National Petroleum Corp. has begun pumping oil from al-Ahdab oil field in central Iraq.
Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad says production started Saturday at about 40,000 barrels per day and will be ramped up to 60,000 barrels per day over the next week.
The $3 billion, 23-year CNPC deal, which was signed in 2008, was the first oil agreement reached between Iraq's central government and an international oil company after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.
The 1 billion barrel field is near the city of Kut, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad.
Since 2003, Iraq has awarded 15 oil and gas deals - the first major investments in the country's energy industry in more than three decades.