Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region aims to increase crude oil production to as much as 1 million barrels a day (b/d) within three years, according to Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami.

The region exported 60,000 b/d of crude oil from its Tawke and Taq fields via the northern Iraq export pipeline since June 2009. However, it could raise this to 1 million barrels within three years, according to comments made by Hawrami to the Reuters news agency.

After passing its own hydrocarbons law in 2007, the Kurdistan Regional Government has signed oil production-sharing, development and exploration contracts worth nearly $5bn with more than 35 energy companies over the past two years.

These are controversial, however. There is currently no national Iraqi law governing investments in the hydrocarbons sector and Baghdad claims only it has the right to sign contracts. As a result, there is unease on the part of international companies to commit to energy projects in Kurdistan.