Iraq's Oil Output Up by 100K b/d—New Minister

Iraq's crude oil production increased by 100,000 barrels a day to 2.5 million barrels a day from Wednesday, the newly appointed oil minister said Wednesday.

Abdul Kareem Luaiby, who was sworn in as new Iraqi oil minister Tuesday, also said his ministry would continue dialogue with the Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq to solve issues regarding oil deals signed in the region.

Luaiby, a Shiite from the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's coalition, said in a statement the new increase is in addition to the less than 2.4 million barrels a day the country has been producing over the last few months.

The new minister said the additional output came from the southern Rumaila and Zubair oil fields which are being developed by international oil companies. U.K. oil major BP PLC (BP) and China National Petroleum Corp., or CNPC, have achieved an increase of 10% in the Rumaila field, an increase matched by a consortium led by Italy's giant Eni SpA (E), Luaiby said.

The minister said his next priority is to increase Iraq's export capacity from southern terminals to 4.5 million barrels a day, from the current 1.6 million barrels a day.

Meanwhile, the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government are at loggerheads over dozens of oil deals the KRG has signed with international oil companies. Baghdad says the deals are not binding as they haven't been approved by the federal government, while the Kurds say they are in line with the new constitution.

"Dialogue with our Kurdish brothers will continue in order to reach solutions," Luaiby said.

Tuesday, a person within the KRG leadership welcomed the appointment of Luaiby and said: "We look forward to working with the new federal oil resolve all outstanding issues."

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