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Iraq has signed an agreement with supermajor BP that would triple the oil production from the Kirkuk oil fields in northern Iraq to more than 1 million bpd, Iraq’s Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luiebi said at the signing on Monday.
The deal was signed by Iraq’s state-run North Oil Company that operates the fields in the north of Iraq. The fields around Kirkuk were returned under Iraq’s federal government management in October last year, after the Iraqi army moved on to seize the fields from the Kurds following an independence referendum in Kurdistan that Iraq and its neighbors never recognized. The Kurds had taken control over Kirkuk in 2014 when they prevented the fields from falling into the hands of ISIS after the Iraq army had lost ground to the militants in the region.
After Baghdad took over the Kirkuk fields from the Kurds in October last year, oil exports from Iraq’s north via pipeline to the Turkish Mediterranean coast have been significantly reduced or halted.
Iraq first approached BP about the Kirkuk fields in October, and its oil ministry urged BP to return to the northern Iraqi fields as quickly as possible to help it boost production from the Kirkuk fields to over 1 million bpd.
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BP’s presence in Iraq actually began in Kirkuk in the 1920s when the company that is now known as BP helped Iraq to locate, produce, and export oil from Baba Gurgur, which was the largest oil field in the world at the time.
In 2009, BP returned to Iraq to become the first international oil company to return to the country after 35 years. BP, PetroChina, and Basra Oil Company (BOC) are developing Iraq’s Rumaila oil field, which BP says is the third-largest producing field in the world, estimated to have around 17 billion barrels of recoverable oil remaining.
BP has also provided technical assistance to Iraqi state-held North Oil Company to help it with the redevelopment of the Kirkuk field. Kirkuk is estimated to hold some 9 billion barrels of recoverable oil remaining, according to BP.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.