Iraq to Triple Oil Exports in 10 Years: MinisterIraq aims to triple oil exports to six million barrels a day in 10 years, earmarking two billion dollars to start increasing capacity, Finance Minister Baqer Jabr Solagh told AFP.
"We are allocating about two billion dollars (1.6 billion euros) to the oil ministry in the 2009 budget in order to start increasing capacity in this sector," Solagh said in an interview on Wednesday.
"From my view, we need to increase our exports at least to what they were in the 1980s, when we exported 3.4 million barrels a day," he said.
"The ministry of oil has a plan, and the minister came to the cabinet and... said they will increase (exports) to six million barrels per day in 10 years."
Current production stands at some 2.4 million bpd, of which two million are exported.
Solagh pointed out that the oil industry's infrastructure and technology are woefully inadequate, however, and that the aid of foreign companies will be necessary if it is to achieve its goals.
"My view is that we have to deal with international companies, Europeans and Americans, and the others, because our technology... is still old, maybe dating back to the 1970s, as well as the equipment," he said.
"For that I think Iraq needs the help of the international oil companies to enter Iraq and do investment" either through revenue-sharing deals, or simple payment for service.
One such arrangement was concluded on Monday, when Iraq and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) signed a three-billion-dollar deal to develop the Al-Ahdab oil field in Wasit province for 23 years.
Production is expected to reach 25,000 bpd in the first three years and expand to 115,000 barrels per day in six years.
While output from the field will be exported, a portion of it will be used to fuel power generation stations nearby to alleviate electricity shortages, it added.
China won the rights to Al-Ahdab in a 1997 deal then valued at 700 million dollars, but activities were suspended because of United Nations sanctions and subsequent security issues following the US-led invasion in 2003.
Baghdad said earlier it had managed to change the previous joint venture contract into a mere service agreement, under which CNPC would charge a service fee of six dollars a barrel. The fee will decrease eventually to three dollars.
In September, Royal Dutch Shell signed a gas joint venture estimated to be worth four billion dollars, becoming the first Western major to enter Iraq through a deal with Baghdad after nearly four decades.
Former dictator Saddam Hussein threw out foreign oil companies after he nationalised the sector in 1972.
Since his execution in 2006, a number of foreign majors had signed contracts with the government of the Kurdish region in the north, but none with the central government.
( AFP )