* KRG targets an output of 1 mln bpd end-2015
* Production capacity of 200,000 bpd by end-2011
By Aseel Kami
ARBIL, Iraq, Oct. 13 (Reuters) - Iraq’s semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan has an ambitious plan to produce 1 million barrels of oil per day by the end of 2015, the Kurdish ministry of natural resources said on Thursday.
The near future plan is to have the capacity to produce 200,000 bpd by the end of 2011, the ministry said.
Iraq’s Kurdistan regional government has signed several agreements with foreign companies since 2007, including Norway’s DNO and Turkey’s Genel Enerji and China’s Sinopec .
“In the space of four years we have increased production from a standing start to about 200,000 barrels per day by the end of this year,” said Saad Sadollah, the ministry commercial adviser.
“We are on track for our, I guess, ambition of reaching 1 million barrel per day by 2015 and we believe we have the investments and the ability to achieve that,” said Saad, addressing investors and businessmen during a financial conference held in Arbil, the capital of Kurdistan region.
In addition to the plans to increase oil production, the region also has plans to upgrade its infrastructure to cope with the production increase.
“We have two main refineries within Kurdistan producing about 60,000 barrels per day, and they are in line to reach 160,000 bpd by the end of next year,” Saad added.
“Today we have at least 42 PSCs in Kurdistan; 20 companies from about 17 countries show I guess the international appetite for Kurdistan,” he said.
Iraqi Kurdistan’s oilfields saw little development during the Saddam Hussein era.
Since the dictator was ousted in 2003, companies from countries ranging from Turkey to China to the United States have moved into the region, even though the risks still exist.
“Over the last four years we have over 40 exploration wells and as a result of this activity we believe we have at least 45 billion barrels of oil and 100 to 200 tcf of gas which make us probably one of the top 10 or top 20 oil reserves in the world.” Saad said.
The figure has not been independently verified, but if accurate, it would mean Kurdistan has more oil than the North Sea has produced over the past 40 years.
Semi-autonomous since 1991, Kurdistan has enjoyed more security than the rest of Iraq, where the central government is still fighting insurgents and militia more than eight years after the U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam.
The Kurds and Iraqi Arabs have a long territorial dispute over areas of northern Iraq, and Baghdad and the KRG still disagree over the legality of contracts signed with foreign firms and over revenue-sharing. (Editing by Ahmed Rasheed and James Jukwey)