Russia’s Gazprom Neft has completed the construction and testing of a 165-kilometre crude pipeline connecting the Badra and Gharraf oil fields in the south of Iraq.

The connection allows Gazprom, which has been developing the Badra field since 2010, to send oil from the field into Iraq’s crude export network at a rate of 204,000 barrels a day (b/d), according to a 6 March company statement.

The energy firm produced its first oil at Badra in December 2013 as part of operating tests on well BD-4. Work is currently ongoing at the site to develop the infrastructure necessary to launch production, which is scheduled for the first half of 2014.

The construction of a 170,000 b/d central gathering station (CGS) is under way by South Korea’s Samsung Engineering, which was awarded a $879m deal in February 2013.

Gazprom says the facility will come into operation imminently with an initial capacity of 60,000 b/d. Samsung has also started work on the 200 million cubic-feet-a-day (cf/d) gas processing plant.

The energy company aims to increase production to 170,000 b/d by 2017. Testing began in April 2013 and Gazprom was originally due to start its oil production in December, but it pushed back the opening of its  production facilities, citing logistical delays and security concerns.