Iraq oil output 'to more than double by 2020'

Iraq could more than double its current daily oil production by 2020, vastly boosting its economy and helping to bring stability to global energy markets, the International Energy Agency forecast on Tuesday.

The country's crude oil output could grow to 6.1 million barrels per day (mbpd) in eight years' time from about 3.0 mbpd currently, the IEA said as it unveiled its Iraq Energy Outlook report in London.

The Paris-based IEA added that Iraq stood to gain almost $5.0 trillion (3.85 trillion euros) in revenue from exporting oil up to 2035, as long as the country invested more than $530 billion on raising its energy output.

"In our central scenario, Iraq's oil production more than doubles to 6.1 mbpd by 2020 and reaches 8.3 mbpd in 2035," said the IEA, which advises oil-consuming developed countries on energy policy.

"The largest increase in production comes from the concentration of super-giant fields in the south around Basra," it added.

But reaching such a high level of output "will require rapid, coordinated progress all along the energy supply chain," the agency stressed.

"Adequate rigs will need to be available at the right time. Early investment in a challenging project to bring up to eight mbpd of water inland from the Gulf to Iraq's southern fields will be essential to support oil production and to reduce potential stress on scarce freshwater resources."

The IEA said "Iraq's energy sector holds the key to the country's future prosperity and can make a major contribution to the stability and security of global energy markets."

It added: "Iraq is already the world's third-largest oil exporter and has the resources and plans to increase rapidly its oil and natural gas production as it recovers from three decades punctuated by conflict and instability.

"Success in developing Iraq's hydrocarbon potential and effective management of the resulting revenues can fuel Iraq's social and economic development. Failure will hinder Iraq's recovery and put global energy markets on course for troubled waters," the IEA said.

Delays to higher Iraqi oil and gas production could cost Iraq $3.0 trillion in lost revenues, according to the agency.

Iraq has proven reserves of 143.1 billion barrels of oil and 3.2 trillion cubic metres (111.9 trillion cubic feet) of gas, both of which are among the largest in the world.

Baghdad is looking to dramatically ramp up both production and sales in the coming years, bringing in much-needed cash to rebuild its conflict-battered economy.

A man walks close to a flare at the North Rumaila oil field in southern Iraq. Iraq could more than double its current daily oil production by 2020, vastly boosting its economy and helping to bring stability to global energy markets, according to a forecast by the International Energy Agency.

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