Iraq Wants to Up Output at Kuwaiti-Shared Oil Field

AMMAN (Dow Jones Newswires), Apr. 20, 2009

Iraq wants to triple crude oil production at a field shared with Kuwait despite the two countries not yet having signed an agreement on the field, an Iraqi oil industry source in Basra said Monday.

Safwan Dome is currently producing around 8,000 barrels a day, the person told Dow Jones Newswires by telephone from Basra in southern Iraq. The South Oil Co., an Oil Ministry affiliate, plans to drill more wells in the field to increase production to up to 25,000 barrels a day, he said.

During a visit to Basra at the weekend, Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani told SOC officials more wells needed to be drilled in the field, which is a southern extension of Iraq's giant Zubair oil field, ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said.

Jihad said the Iraqi Drilling Co., also a ministry affiliate, would soon start drilling wells at Safwan Dome.

"We want to produce as much crude oil as we can from the field," Jihad quoted the minister as telling SOC officials.

Jihad said "the other party', referring to Kuwait, is also producing crude oil from Safwan oil field known inside Kuwait as al-Rawthatain.

Raising output at Safwan Dome, is part of a "Crush Plan" initiated by the Iraqi government to increase production from southern oil fields by 500,000 barrels a day within two years.

Oil fields shared between the two neighbors were mainly blamed for trigering the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Saddam Hussein's regime then accused Kuwait of stealing billions of dollars worth of oil from Iraqi oil fields through horizental drilling. Even after the ousting of Saddam in 2003, some Iraqi paraliamenatarians have accused Kuwait of stealing oil from Iraq. Kuwait has denied this.

Shahristani has called for an agreement to be reached on the shared oil fields.

Several oil fields are in the border area between Kuwait and Iraq, most prominently the Ratqa field, which is a southern extension of Iraq's giant Rumaila field.  

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