* Exports seen at 6 mln bps in 2017
* Production now at 3.2 mln bpd
* Sept. exports could overcome 2.6 mln bpd
(Adds exports, quotes, details)
BAGHDAD, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Iraq laid out more milestones
on its path back to oil producing power, targeting 6 million
barrels per day exports by 2017, and confirming it was currently
pumping more than neighbour and fellow OPEC member Iran.
Iraq's Oil Minister Abdul-Kareem Luaibi said on Saturday he
expected oil exports will reach 2.9 million bpd next year before
hitting 3.5 million bpd in 2014 and 3.75 million bpd in 2015.
Current production is at 3.2 million bpd, the highest level
in three decades, and exports are at an average of 2.6 million
"We expect exports for this month to be more than 2.6
million barrels per day. So far they are at 2.6 million barrels
per day, and output is at 3.2 million," the minister told
Iraq with the help of foreign firms has ambitious plans to
boost production capacity beyond 12 million bpd by 2017, but
this target has proved unrealistic due to infrastructure
bottlenecks and logistical shortcomings.
It is expected to target 8-8.5 million bpd, but some oil
analysts and executives see even 6 million bpd by 2017 as a
stretch for the war-damaged country.
Any rise in Iraqi supplies would replace shortages of
Iranian crude from the market and could keep a lid on prices as
Western sanctions targeted Iran's exports.
Recovering from decades of war and crippling sanctions, Iraq
is seeking to boost its oil flows. The bulk of its crude oil is
exported from southern Gulf ports.
With ambitious plans to double its oil production over the
next three years, Iraq has passed the 3 million bpd production
level for the first time in three decades and has overtaken Iran
to become OPEC's second biggest oil producer after Saudi Arabia.
"Iraq production now is at 3.2 mln bpd and we managed to
outpace Iran production in OPEC due to the deteriorated Iranian
production," Falah al-Amri, Iraq's OPEC governor and head of the
State Oil Marketing Organisation, told reporters on the sideline
of an oil conference in Baghdad.
Iraq's oil exports rose to 2.565 million barrels per day
(bpd) on average in August, their highest level for three
Iraq's central government and the autonomous Kurdistan
reached a deal, announced on Thursday, to end an oil payment
dispute after Kurdistan pledged to continue exports and Baghdad
said it would pay foreign companies working there.
Under the agreement, Kurdistan said it would keep its oil
production for export at 140,000 barrels per day this month
before raising it to 200,000 bpd for the rest of the year,
levels that could significantly further boosting Iraq's exports.
If the deal stands, it will be a limited breakthrough in a
broader long-running dispute over land, energy resources and
authority to sign energy contracts between the central
government and the Kurdistan region.
Luaibi said investment in Iraq over the last two and a half
years to develop oilfields awarded to foreign companies in three
auctions had reached to around $15 billion, a healthy figure but
still below the government's ambitions.
Iraq holds the world's fourth largest oil reserves.
(Editing by William Hardy)
- Politics & Government