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Associated Press: Iraqi oil minister predicts doubling of production over next four years

By H. Josef Hebert

WASHINGTON – Iraq’s oil production is expected to roughly double over the next four years to 4 million barrels a day, the country’s oil minister predicted Wednesday after meeting with U.S. energy officials and executives from nine major oil companies.
“We are increasing production,” Hussein al-Shahristani told reporters.

With Iraq’s oil infrastructure frequently targeted by insurgents, the country has struggled to resume oil production to prewar levels of about 2.5 million to 3 million barrels a day. As of last May, production stood at about 1.9 million barrels a day, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says.

Al-Shahristani met with representatives of major oil companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron, Shell Oil Co., and BP America Inc., to explore ways that these companies might participate in expanding Iraq’s oil sector and developing new fields.

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, who sat in on the discussions, described it as “a preliminary meeting” and an exchange of information.

“We are not negotiating with any company yet. We have to do some homework,” said Al-Shahristani, adding that many companies have expressed interest in developing new Iraqi oil fields.

Iraq’s oil infrastructure has been under repeated attacks from insurgents. From April 2003 to last June there were an estimated 315 attacks on Iraqi energy infrastructure including its oil pipeline system and electric power grid, according to an Energy Information Administration summary.

Iraq’s oil industry also suffered during the 1990s when the country under Saddam Hussein did not have access to state-of-the-art technology or engineering know-how.

But al-Shahristani expressed resounding optimism about the future of Iraq’s oil industry and said he was interested in international partnerships to develop fields in all regions of the country. In 10 to 15 years, he told reporters, Iraq will “be in a position to be the second largest producer and perhaps the largest.”

Bodman acknowledged that forecast was “quite optimistic.”

Iraq is believed to have recoverable oil reserves of 115 billion barrels, second only to Saudi Arabia, with about two-thirds in the southern part of the country, according to the EIA, the U.S. Energy Department’s statistical and research agency. In addition, some geologists believe the country may have another 100 billion barrels in its western desert region, which has not been explored. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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