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Iraq, which depends on oil sales for 95 percent of its public spending, appears set to continue boosting production, which currently stands at around 4.6 million barrels per day.
Prices have struggled to go much higher than $50 a barrel. After the longest run of gains since March, Brent crude, the international benchmark, traded 0.9 percent higher at $51.17 at 7:13 a.m. in London on Friday.
As a result of the investment, Iraq's crude output should increase by 250,000-350,000 barrels per day next year, the Iraqi officials said. The country now produces about 4.6 million bpd, most of it from the southern region.
The OPEC member pumped 4.632mn barrels of crude oil per day in July compared with 4.559mn bpd in June, state-run Oil Marketing Company (SOMO) said in a recent statement.
Iraq reaped $3.744 billion from oil exports in July, Oil Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said in a statement. He said average production for the month was over 3.202 million bpd.
In November 2011, Iraq signed a $17 billion deal to form a joint venture to gather, process and market gas from three oil fields in the oil-rich province of Basra. The fields are the 17.8 billion-barrel Rumaila, the 4.1 billion barrel Zubair field and the 8.6 billion barrel West Qurna Stage 1.
India's oil imports from Saudi Arabia and Iraq hit the highest in more than a decade last month as OPEC's top producers gained at the expense of Latin American crudes, a validation of the OPEC policy of maintaining output and fighting for market share.
Iraq's exports from its southern region have been running at an average daily rate of 3.297 million barrels per day (bpd) so far this month, higher than December's average and unaffected by tribal clashes, an oil company executive said on Saturday.
Iraq has every incentive to keep pumping all it can as its actual oil prices are even lower than the benchmarks. The official selling price of Basra Heavy in Europe is $10.40 a barrel below Brent for December, and trade sources say cargoes are being sold a dollar or more below OSP - or less than $30.
Tehran and Baghdad today signed an 6-year agreement on November 11, aimed at exporting 25 million cubic meters per day (mcm/d) of Iranian gas to Iraq's Basra.