ISTANBUL - Agence France-Presse
MEETING: Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani speaks during a press conference in Istanbul. Iraq is showcasing oil fields on offer for development to international companies
Iraq aims to increase its oil production by up to four times with the development of 10 new fields to be auctioned later this year, Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani said Tuesday.
The minister spoke after a meeting with oil companies in Istanbul to present the new fields and the terms for the tender, which will follow a first-round bidding in June that saw investors snub all but one of eight contracts on offer.
Iraq expects production from the new fields slated for auction "to be several million barrels per day", Shahristani said.
"So combining the fields of the first and second round, Iraq should increase its production to at least three to four times of its current production," he said.
Iraq, which has the world's third largest oil reserves, is yet to catch up with output levels prior to the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, hit by deadly unrest and tensions between Baghdad and the oil-rich autonomous Kurdish region in the north.
Iraq currently produces around 2.4 million barrels per day, with oil accounting for some 85 percent of government revenues. It exports some two million barrels per day, most of it from the fields of the southern province of Basra.
British energy giant BP and China's CNPC International Ltd. were the only companies to win a bid in the first auction, while a slew of other foreign firms snubbed the other contracts offered by Baghdad, unhappy with finanacial terms.
It was the first time Iraq's oil industry had been opened up to foreign companies since being nationalised four decades ago.
Iraq also has considerable natural gas reserves, and Shahrastani said on Tuesday Baghdad might consider supplying the planned Nabucco pipeline, designed to carry gas to western Europe, by-passing Russia.
Developing the fields "will take five to six years", he said. "When these are developed, Iraq will have much more gas than it needs, which will be definitely available for export."
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has earlier said his country may contribute 15 billion cubic meters of gas to Nabucco, whose suppliers are yet to be determined.
The 3,300 kilometres (2,000 miles) conduit, planned to become operational in 2014 with a capacity of 31 billion cubic metres of gas, is planned to run through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary to Austria.
[BOX BOX] Turkish energy minister meets with Iraqi oil minister:
ISTANBUL – Anatolia News Agency
Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız met with Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani at Istanbul's Dolmabahçe Palace on Tuesday.
Speaking at a joint press conference after the meeting, Yıldız said that Turkish Petroleum Corporation might offer bids in oil and natural gas tenders in Iraq as direct operator in 6 fields and as part of a consortium in 4 fields.
"TPAO can offer bids in all the 10 tenders and I hope we will underline the cooperation between Turkey and Iraq by a winning a tender there," Yıldız told reporters.
Responding to a question on possible Iraqi contributions to the Nabucco natural gas pipeline, Iraqi oil minister said his country could provide natural gas to the pipeline if Iraq produces more gas than it currently needed.