London-listed oil explorer Gulf Keystone Petroleum is nearing the completion of its first production facility at the Shaikan field in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

All equipment modules have now been delivered from Canada through the port of Mirsin in Turkey, the company said in a statement on 20 February. This followed delays to the shipping schedule by prolonged bad weather.

The 20,000-barrel-a-day (b/d) production facility (PF-1) is expected to be operation in March and will be tied to the Shaikan-1, 3 and 4 producing wells, processing the crude to export specification.

It will be followed by the construction of the 20,000 b/d PF-2 in the middle of 2013, which will be tied to the Shaikan-2 and 5 producing wells. It will also include Shaikan-10, the company’s first development well, which will be drilled by March using a rig from US oil field service provider, Weatherford.

A first deep exploration well, Shaikan-7 will target the middle to lower Triassic and Permian horizons and will also be drilled by March.

Gulf Keystone has a 51 per cent interest in the Shaikan block, which is situated about 85km northwest of Iraqi Kurdistan regional capital Erbil. In 2011, an independent review by Houston-based Dynamic Global Advisers estimates the Shaikan field contains 8 billion barrels of crude.

From 2014, the company hopes to increase output from the Shaikan field, with an initial development target of 100,000 b/d, and has ambitious plans to ramp production up to 500,000 b/d by the end of 2016.