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Iraq Boosts Oil Output

December 13, 1999

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraq has boosted its oil output capacity to 3 million barrels a day, but does not intend to pump that much because of U.N. limits on its exports, Oil Ministry officials said Monday.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the capacity equals what Iraq churned out before the United Nations imposed sanctions for the country’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which led to the Gulf War.

High prices on global oil markets will make producing 3 million barrels a day unnecessary, they said, because Iraq will easily earn the U.N. ceiling of $5.2 billion long before the current seventh leg of the U.N.-approved oil program ends in June.

The U.N. Security Council voted Friday to extend the program for six months. Iraq had stopped oil exports to demonstrate its indignation at stopgap extensions after the sixth phase ended Nov. 24.

The announcement came as experts prepared contracts for the next phase of exports. Officials said a price formula for Iraqi crude should be in New York for the United Nations to approve on Monday.

If all goes well, they said the first tanker should be loaded with Iraqi crude from the Turkish terminal of Ceyhan on Friday.

Although Iraq could export up to 2.4 million barrels a day, it will stick to the previous rate of about 2.2 million barrels a day, the officials said.

Russian oil companies have been digging new wells and enhancing existing ones, the main factor in recent production increases. Arrival of spare parts and equipment to rehabilitate the industry, devastated during the Gulf War and slow to mend under U.N. sanctions, also has helped. The United Nations so far has allowed Iraq to purchase parts and machinery worth $900 million to rehabilitate the industry.

Over the weekend, state-run newspapers reported that Oil Minister Amer Mohammed Rashid had opened a new project that adds 70,000 barrels a day to the 900,000 barrels produced daily at the giant Kirkuk field in northern Iraq.

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