Iraq to Begin Signing Agreements with Companies to Increase Output

The Iraqi cabinet yesterday gave permission to the country's Oil Ministry to begin signing two-year oil field development agreements with international oil companies in a bid to increase the nation's crude output, a ministry official said today.

The technical support agreements will help Iraq develop five producing fields to add 500,000 barrels per day to the country's 2.4 million barrels-per-day output.

Last year, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc, ExxonMobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. submitted technical and financial proposals for the five fields and received counterproposals from the Iraqi side.

The companies are among more than 70 international firms that met the Oil Ministry's Feb. 18 deadline to compete to develop Iraq's oil reserves.

Iraq's average production was 2.4 million barrels per day in January, while exports stood at an average of 1.92 million barrels per day. December 2007 exports averaged 1.81 million barrels per day.