Oil major the UK/Dutch Shell Group expects to start up its delayed oil production facilities at the Majnoon oil field in the south of Iraq in October.

Testing at the field’s installations has begun in preparation for its wells to be opened and pumping to begin, according to Oil Ministry spokesman, Asim Jihad, Reuters news agency reports.

Initial production is expected at 175,000 barrels a day (b/d). “This is the preliminary production until we reach the higher production target in future, which is more than 1 million b/d,” says Jihad.

The new output will be a major contributor to Iraq’s hopes of adding about 350,000-400,000 b/d of new capacity by the end of the year, taking the total to about 3.4 million b/d.

Shell’s first commercial production at the Majnoon field was originally scheduled for January 2013, but has been pushed back several times, drawing criticism from the Oil Ministry over lost export revenues worth more than $4.6bn.

Shell was awarded the Majnoon field development in 2010 in consortium with Malaysia’s Petronas and state-owned Missan Oil Company, agreeing to boost production from less than 50,000 b/d to a plateau of 1.8 million b/d.

The company has been in talks with the Oil Ministry to reduce the plateau level to about 1 million b/d, although the new target has not been officially announced.