The 8.6 billion barrel field, which is being developed by a consortium grouping Exxon Mobil and Shell, was among those awarded by Iraq during one its first international oil licensing rounds last year and is seen as a key part of the country´s drive to boost overall output of a resource on which it relies for 95 per cent of its foreign revenues.
The US State department report shows that so far Iraqi oil production has fallen about 100,000 barrels per day from the best levels of 2010. Oil production in November was 2.31 million barrels per day and exports were 1.79 million barrels per day. Exports were off 200,000 barrels per day from the best levels of 2010.
West Qurna Stage 1 currently produces 234,000 barrels per day, Mahdi Swadi, the head of the joint management commission that runs the field, told The Associated Press. Output is set to climb to 270,000 barrels per day by May, he said.
Under the agreement between Iraq and the companies, production from the West Qurna Stage I field should reach 2.825 million barrels a day after 6 to 7 years. The consortium will be paid $1.9 per barrel for each barrel produced.
The consortium was originally only allowed to pump oil from one reservoir, but five more reservoirs were added to the field over the summer.