Iraq's new oil minister, Abdul Kareem Luaibi, said the country's oil output has reached 2.6 million barrels per day, the highest level for more than 20 years.
Luaibi said developing Iraq's oil sector is essential for providing jobs and revenue for the country and he vowed renewed efforts at exploration and development of new sites.
Luaibi also spoke about the need for constructing new oil and natural gas pipelines, including three to Syria, and said there were plans to build "new large refineries."
Luaibi said new refineries would be built at Nasariyah, Karbala, Maysan, and Kirkuk within three to five years.
Luaibi also confirmed exports from the semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region were expected to resume soon. But he said there was "nothing new" regarding a disagreement between Iraqi Kurdistan and the central government in Baghdad over contracts to develop the northern oilfields.
Iraq sits upon some of the world's largest oil reserves but has struggled to push output close to the 3 million barrels per day it produced in the late 1980s, before it invaded Kuwait.
Luaibi said Iraq aims to raise oil output to 3 million barrels per day by the end of 2011.
compiled from agency reports