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brent-crudeBAGHDAD: Iraq is aiming to produce 5-6 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) by 2015, with a view to reaching a target of 9-10 million bpd by 2020, a level that could be sustained for 20 years, the Deputy Prime Minister for Energy said on Wednesday.

 

Iraq's oil production, which stagnated for years due to wars and sanctions, started to rise in earnest in 2010, after Baghdad secured service contracts with companies such as BP Plc, Exxon Mobil, Eni and Royal Dutch Shell .

 

Current production is at 3.4 million bpd, Hussain al-Shahristani said, the highest in at least three decades.

 

 "The conclusion of our studies show that it's feasible and desirable for Iraq to achieve a production of 9-10 million bpd by 2020," Shahristani said at a briefing to mark the release of the International Energy Agency's (IEA) Iraq Energy Outlook.

 

"Iraq can sustain that production for 20 years."

 

"While I'm talking to you now, Iraq's oil production has reached 3.4 million bpd. This figure will increase more and more in the future," Shahristani added.

 

In its outlook published on Tuesday, the Paris-based IEA said it saw Iraq's oil production reaching 6.1 million bpd by the end of this decade under its central scenario.

 

OPEC member Iraq has the world's fourth-largest oil reserves and is targeting exports of 6 million bpd by 2017, which would see it overtake its neighbour and fellow OPEC member Iran.

 

But infrastructure bottlenecks, red tape and bureaucracy have hindered development of the industry.

 

Separately, the head of Iraq's state-run South Oil Co. said it had picked US firm CH2M Hill for a contract worth $170 million to help manage a multi billion-dollar water oilfield injection project.

 

The scheme aims to help raise extraction rates and maintain reservoir pressure to overcome declines in production at fields such as West Qurna, Majnoon, Zubair and Rumaila.

 

"The South Oil Company has selected CH2M Hill to offer consultancy for the management of the seawater injection project," Dhiya Jaafar said.

 

"The South Oil Company will be the leader of the project. We will send the contract to the oil ministry to approve it."

 

The country is pushing to upgrade outdated infrastructure and become one of the world's biggest oil sources after years of ruinous war and sanctions.

Copyright Reuters, 2012