BP agreed to help increase crude production at northern Iraq’s Kirkuk fields as part of government push to restore output and exports capacity after recapturing the oil-rich region from semi-autonomous Kurdish forces in October.
Iraqi and BP officials signed an agreement in Kirkuk city on Thursday to study ways of boosting capacity at the fields to 700,000 to 750,000 barrels a day. The deposits currently can pump about 450,000 barrels a day.
Kirkuk’s oil was discovered by the forebears of BP and France’s Total SA in 1927. The London-based energy giant provided technical assistance to Iraq’s state-run North Oil Co. until 2015 amid fighting in the region between government troops and Islamic State militants. Al-Luaibi had asked BP to accelerate plans to develop Kirkuk’s fields, the oil ministry said in October.
“North Oil must restore its glory and its output averages to 1.5 million barrels a day,” Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi said at the signing ceremony in Kirkuk city on Thursday. “We have an ambitious plan to activate the company.”
Iraq pumps most of its 4.42 million barrels a day from fields in the south and ships it from the Persian Gulf port of Basra. The country, the second-biggest producer of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is limited to pumping 4.351 million barrels a day under OPEC’s global cuts agreement.