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September 27, 2012

Iraqi crude oil production approaching highest level in decades

Graph of Iraqi crude oil production, as explained in article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook.
Note: Data excludes condensates. Annual data cover 1980 through 2011, monthly data cover January 2010 through August 2012.

Estimated Iraqi oil production surpassed 3 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in July 2012, the highest level since the end of the Gulf War in 1990. Increased investment in Iraq's petroleum industry and export infrastructure underpin these production gains. However, many factors still constrain the Iraqi oil industry from reaching its full production potential.

Iraqi production rebounded after 2005. Production in previously developed fields such as Rumaila and West Qurna has increased in recent years. Meanwhile, new upstream investments are boosting output even further. In June 2012, the Halfaya oil field came online, increasing total Iraqi production by an estimated 70 thousand bbl/d, with the potential to produce up to 535 thousand bbl/d.

With existing fields like Rumaila and West Qurna and new production coming online in Halfaya, Iraqi production has the potential to exceed 4 million bbl/d. However, constraints including pipeline bottlenecks, export capacity limitations, and security issues still may limit Iraq's oil production potential. Alleviation of these constraints could enable Iraqi oil production and exports to reach record-high levels in the near future.