Iraq government expects crude production to rise to 3.4 million barrels a day by the end of 2012

By Brien Southward

Iraq’s deputy prime minister for energy affairs, Hussain al-Shahristani, claimed in an interview from December 22, 2011 that Iraq’s crude oil production has jumped to more than 3 million barrels per day, and is expected to rise to 3.4 million by the end of 2012.

Shahristani expects Iraq’s first single-point mooring facility for oil tankers to begin operations in January, with a second unit to be in place within six months, a third by the end of 2012, and a fourth in 2013. He says that each facility will expand Iraq’s exporting capacity by 900,000 barrels per day.

Iraqi Kurdistan’s resources have been the source of a great deal of interest in recent years, and Shahristani says that “Iraq’s crude production will rise to 3.4 million barrels a day by the end of next year, and exports will rise to 2.6 million barrels a day, including 175,000 barrels from fields in the northern Kurdish region.”

Recently the Iraq government has criticized contracts the semi-autonomous Kurdish government signed with oil giant Exxon Mobil. “Any contract brokered to develop, explore or produce crude oil or gas in Iraq without the knowledge of the central government,” said Shahristani, “is considered null and the company cannot work on the basis of these kinds of contracts.” So far the Iraq government has issued 15 gas and oil licenses since the 2003 invasion, while Kurdistan has signed contracts with more than 40 energy companies.

The withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, over 8 years after the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein’s government, marks a transition of power that has given Iraq’s new government full control of the country. There is still some amount of uncertainty over the country’s stability, however: only a few hours before Shahristani’s speech, at least 57 people were killed when nine bombs exploded in Baghdad.

To combat sabotage to pipelines and energy facilities, Shahristani says, the Iraq government has said it will be acquiring unmanned drone aircraft.

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