OPEC Not Yet Ready To Assign Iraq An Oil Quota- Iraqi Official

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries isn't yet ready to bring Iraq into its oil quota system, but may seek to give Iraq a production limit when its output tops 3 million barrels a day, a senior Iraqi oil official said Monday.

Iraq, a founder of the 12-member-strong world oil cartel, has not been bound to an OPEC production quota since the 1980s, when the country's production fell sharply below its quota due to the 8-year Iraq-Iran war that ended in 1988. Then the country came under U.N trade sanctions for 13 years following its invasion of Kuwait in 1990, when it was banned from freely exporting.

"We are not expecting OPEC to discuss a quota for Iraq in this meeting," Iraq's OPEC governor Falah Alamri told Dow Jones as OPEC ministers gathered in Vienna ahead of a Wednesday ministerial meeting.

Iraq currently produces around 2.7 million barrels a day, a level still below its output when OPEC assigned it a quota a few decades ago.

Iraqi oil officials said they believe the organization may start discussions to include Baghdad in the cartel's quota system when its production starts to exceed 3 million barrels a day.

"I think OPEC members will start discussions to assign a quota for Iraq next year, when our production is expected to hit 3.4 million barrels a day," said Alamri, who is also head of Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization.

Iraq, which holds the world's third-largest oil reserves, over the last two years has signed several multibillion-dollar oil deals with the aim of producing at least 8 million barrels a day in the coming six years.