Iraqi oil production, the country’s sole foreign revenue earner, is set to get a further boost after February’s record levels with the planned 29 March start-up of the West Qurna-2 oil field at an initial 120,000 b/d. In the north, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is preparing to hand over 100,000 b/d of Kurdish oil for export by state marketer SOMO, a further boon to Baghdad after a disappointing year of lower than expected oil output and zero Kurdish exports.

West Qurna-2, operated by Russian independent Lukoil, is due to ramp up to 400,000 b/d by the end of the year, providing the single largest increment this year to Iraqi oil production, which is targeted to rise above 4mn b/d if all goes according to an ambitious plan. Like many other oil field development projects in Iraq, West Qurna-2 suffered delays due to a variety of issues including local protests and difficulty getting permits to import equipment. It had been due to start up in 2013. (CONTINUED - 1966 WORDS)