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Iraq Oil Minister Expects Steep Production Increase

An Iraqi oil-field worker near Kirkuk
An Iraqi oil-field worker near Kirkuk
BAGHDAD -- Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani says the country's production of crude oil is expected to reach some 6 million barrels per day (bpd) over the next six years due to the development of new fields.

Al-Shahristani told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) on April 10 that the first tender to develop eight oil and gas fields will add some 1.5 million bpd to Iraq's current production of some 2.4 million bpd, while a second tender, to develop 10 more oil fields, will increase production by another 2 million bpd.

He described the increase as "a quantum leap by international -- rather than Iraqi -- standards that would put Iraq among the world's leading oil producers and exporters."

The first tender was completed in late 2008 and the second on April 1. Al-Shahristani said the government is also preparing for a third tender.

He added that Iraq is working closely with OPEC and other gas producers to try to raise the price of oil, saying that "we think the price of oil must not be less than $70 per barrel."

He told RFI that a meeting of Asian oil ministers will be held in April and another by OPEC ministers in May.