The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has approved development plans by UK oil explorer Afren for the Barda Rash oil discovery in the northern region of Iraq.

Having received approval the company will now focus on the extraction of 506 million barrels of light crude oil reserves. It will start by reopening three existing wells and constructing an early production system that will produce between 10,000-15,000 barrels a day (b/d).

Afren expects production to begin in August this year. Crude oil will be trucked to nearby export pipelines, according to a 23 January statement.

The company will eventually export its production through a planned pipeline from the Taq Taq field, which will link with the existing northern export pipeline running from Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. The pipeline is expected to be tendered this year.

A second phase of development includes the construction of a central processing facility, lifting production capacity to 35,000 b/d and 125,000 b/d by 2017. In the longer term, Afren will then focus on the extraction of about 964 million barrels of heavier oil from the field.

Afren has a 60 per cent stake in the Barda Rash production-sharing contract and a 20 per cent stake in the Ain Sifi field, which is operated by the US’ Hunt Oil.