Oct. 22, 2011, 9:48 a.m. EDT
Iraq oil output capacity jumps to 2.95 million bpd

DEAD SEA, Jordan (Zawya Dow Jones) -- Iraq's crude oil output capacity has jumped to a post-war record of 2.950 million barrels a day this month, the country's oil minister said Saturday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum meeting in the Dead Sea in Jordan, Abdul Kareem Luaiby said, however, exports remain at 2.2 million barrels a day because of ongoing limitations at the country's export facilities.

Luaiby said the increase mainly come from Iraq's largest producing oil fields in the south, Rumaila, West Qurna Phase 1 and Zubair, which are being developed by BP PLC BP -0.35% , Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM +1.80% and Eni SpA E -0.45% respectively.

He said Rumaila's production capacity stood at 1.35 million barrels a day, Zubair producing up to 285,000 barrels a day while the West Qurna 1 is pumping some 400,000 barrels a day.

He said there are 100,000 barrels a day Iraq can produce now but it hasn't had enough capacity to export them. "We have to keep these extra barrels in wells instead of producing them because we don't have enough capacity to export them."

Iraq exports some 1.8 million barrels a day from its southern Basra and Khor al-Amayah terminals in the Persian Gulf. That amount represents the full capacities of both terminals.

The Iraqi oil ministry is building four floating terminals, each with a capacity of 900,000 barrels a day. The first floating terminal is expected to be operational in January, according to Iraqi oil officials.

Earlier this week Thamer Ghadhban, the top energy advisor to Iraq's Prime Minister, said Iraq's oil production is expected to hit 3 million at the end of this month.

Iraq, which sits on the world's third largest oil reserves, has signed 11 oil field development contracts with international oil companies since 2009 to expand output. The deals would enable Iraq to pump 12 million barrels a day in the next six years. Such a production expansion would raise Iraqi output to levels produced by the world's largest oil producer, Saudi Arabia.

The oil minister said he is happy with the performance of international oil companies that are developing some of Iraq's vast oil fields. "They are eager to increase output as quickly as possible."