Iraq Resumes Production from Majnoon Field

Iraq has resumed oil production of 50,000 barrels a day from the Majnoon oilfield in the south for the first time since the U.S.- led war ended, an Iraqi oil official said.

During the rule of Saddam Hussein, Total had exclusive negotiating rights for the huge Majnoon and Bin Umar oilfields in southern Iraq and was hoping to sign a deal once sanctions were lifted.

"Our technical and engineering staff at the Southern Oil Company were able to repair the damage inflicted to Majnoon oilfield and it has resumed production," said Assem Jihad, head of the oil ministry's information office. He said the oil field would be able to produce 100,000 b/d in a short time as work was continuing to repair more wells in the field.

The Majnoon field was the target of acts of sabotage and looting that swept the country after the fall of Baghdad in April. Iraq is currently producing 2 million b/d from its southern oil fields and exporting 1.2 million b/d, Iraqi oil officials say. Sabotage of a key export pipeline in northern Iraq has hampered the country's efforts to resume oil exports from the north.

Majnoon oil field started production in June last year and it was assigned previously for foreign firms. It used to produce 50,000 b/d.

The Majnoon oilfield has reserves of between 10 billion and 30 billion barrels of oil and is capable of peak production of 600,000 b/d of oil, while production from Bin Umar field could reach 50,000 b/d.