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Iraq to Fall Short of 2014 Target for Oil Output, Lawmaker Says

Bloomberg, 25 March 2013

Iraq, the second-largest producer in OPEC, won’t reach its target of pumping 4.5 million barrels of oil a day by next year and plans to announce revised production goals in April, senior government officials said.

The country will fall short of its target partly as a result of bureaucratic hurdles and the lack of an energy law, Adnan al-Janabi, chairman of the Iraqi parliament’s oil and energy committee, said today at a conference in Dubai. A draft energy law is “stuck” because of political disputes and won’t be passed soon, al-Janabi said.

Thamir Ghadhban, an adviser to the prime minister, said at the same conference that Iraq’s oil exports, including those from its semi-autonomous Kurdish region, will average 2.9 million barrels a day this year. The Middle Eastern country plans by 2030 to spend $275 billion on projects to develop and produce crude and will disclose new production targets next month, he said.

Iraq, helped by foreign investors, is boosting output and upgrading energy facilities that were damaged and neglected during decades of war and sanctions under Saddam Hussein, toppled in a U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Crude production swelled by 24 percent last year, and Iraq overtook Iran in June to become the biggest member, after Saudi Arabia, in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Record Output

The country seeks to raise oil output to an average of 3.7 million barrels a day this year and at some point in 2013 to match its 1979 output record of 3.8 million, Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Al-Luaibi told reporters in Vienna on Dec. 9. It produced 3.2 million barrels a day in February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“I don’t think we can reach 4.5 million barrels a day next year,” said al-Janabi, the lawmaker.

Iraq has boosted output after inviting international oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), Total SA (FP) and BP Plc (BP/) to bid in oil and gas licensing rounds starting in 2009.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), which operates the West Qurna-1 field in southern Iraq, will have opportunities in Iraq’s next round of oil licenses, Ghadhban said. Al-Luaibi, the oil minister, warned Exxon in January to stop doing business with the Kurdistan Regional Government if it wants to continue working with the central government in Baghdad.

Kurdish Dispute

Chevron Corp. (CVX), Total and Exxon are among companies that angered the central government with proposals to explore in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq. While authorities in Baghdad don’t recognize contracts signed by the Kurdish government without their permission, foreign investors say the Kurds offer more attractive terms.

Iraq may have 300 billion barrels of crude reserves, more than double its declared 143.1 billion, al-Janabi said today.

The country expects to halt the flaring and wastage of natural gas by capturing all the gas it produces by 2015, Ghadhban said. Iraq contains the fifth-largest gas reserves in the Middle East, according to BP’s 2012 Statistical Review of World Energy.

The country, which suffers regular electricity blackouts, wants to conserve gas to serve as fuel for power plants and eventually to export the fuel. Iraq signed a 25-year agreement with Shell and Mitsubishi Corp. (8058) in November 2011 to develop its gas resources.