The UK-based Gulf Keystone Petroleum has increased its oil reserves estimates for the Shaikan field in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

An independent review by Houston-based Dynamic Global Advisors estimates that the Shaikan contains 8 billion barrels of crude, up from 4.9 billion barrels, according to an 8 November company release.

The figure comes from data from the Shaikan-4 appraisal well and 3D seismic data from the adjacent Sheikh Adi block.  It is calculated on a P90 basis meaning the oil has a 90 per cent certainty of being produced.

In May, the company said it was preparing to export 5,000 barrels a day (b/d) from its well test facility at the Shaikan field (MEED 24:5:11).

Gulf Keystone announced its first discovery in Kurdistan on 6 August. The company drilled the Shaikan-5 appraisal well on 31 October and plans to drill Shaikan-6 in early 2012 providing information on the edges of the Shaikan structure.

According to the US Geological Society, the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region could hold more than 50 billion barrels of oil, a figure comparable to reserves in Libya. However, it has been left largely unexplored until 2004.