Iraq is set to exceed its 2013 crude production target of 3.5 million barrels a day (b/d), and could reach 3.7 million b/d, according to the deputy prime minister for energy affairs, Hussain al-Shahristani.

The country is currently producing about 3.3 million b/d and has already brought the Gharraf oil field on stream, with output of about 50,000 b/d, said Al-Shahristani, speaking at the Gulf Intelligence Energy Markets Forum held in Dubai on 24 September. The Majnoon field, operated by the UK/Dutch oil major Shell, is expected to produce almost 200,000 b/d by the end of the year.

“Iraq’s output will hit more than 3.5 million b/d even without the contribution of the Kurdistan region,” said Al-Shahristani. According to the Gulf country’s 2013 federal budget, the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq is required to produce 250,000 b/d. Baghdad hopes to ramp up oil production capacity to 9 million b/d by 2020 and to maintain this level for 20 years.

Addressing critics of Iraq’s ability to reach its ambitious long-term crude production targets, Al-Shahristani said: “Let’s not wait until 2020; three more years and you will see output exceed 5 million b/d.”

The target was reduced from initial plans to hit more than 12 million b/d by 2017, after negotiations with the international oil companies (IOCs) that signed up to develop the fields in 2009 and 2010. The developments now have reduced target levels and concentrate on extending the plateau production period and maximising oil recovery from fields.