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Iraq’s Oil Output Rises After CNPC Starts Pumping at Ahdab Field

July 7 (Bloomberg) -- Iraq, holder of the world’s fifth-largest crude reserves, is pumping more than 2.8 million barrels a day after production started at the Al-Ahdab oil field, Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi said.

State-run China National Petroleum Corp. won a $3.5 billion development contract for Al-Ahdab in November 2008. It was the first license awarded by Iraq’s government after the U.S.-led invasion that ousted the regime of Saddam Hussein five years earlier. Iraq has distributed 14 more contracts to international energy companies since then, including three for developing natural gas.

“Production levels of crude oil in Iraq exceed 2.8 million barrels per day after Al-Ahdab oil field started to produce,” al-Luaibi said in an interview yesterday in Baghdad. Iraqi officials estimate Al-Ahdab, in eastern Al-Wasit province, to contain about 1 billion barrels.

“Output is due to increase further at the end of the year,” the minister said.

Iraq produced at a rate of 2.63 million barrels a day last month, Hussain al-Shahristani, the deputy prime minister for energy affairs, said on June 7.

The Oil Ministry will select 15 international companies, in addition to all those that participated in two bidding rounds in 2009, to compete in the next auction of energy licenses set for early next year, al-Luaibi said. Iraq estimates its crude reserves at 143.1 billion barrels, the fifth-biggest worldwide.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kadhim Ajrash at kajrash@bloomberg.net; Nayla Razzouk in Amman at nrazzouk2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bruce Stanley at bstanley5@bloomberg.net

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