Iraq asks BP to boost oil production from Kirkuk: spokesman

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi met a senior BP executive on Monday to discuss developing and boosting production from Kirkuk oilfield, a ministry spokesman said.

The logo of BP is seen at a petrol station in Kloten, Switzerland October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Luaibi, who met BP’s president for the Middle East region Michael Townshend, has asked the British oil major to help increase output from Kirkuk oilfield to more than 700,000 barrels per day, the spokesman said.

“The minister is very keen to rehabilitate the Kirkuk oilfield and raise production from there as soon as possible,” spokesman Asim Jihad told Reuters.

The oil minister discussed reactivating a deal signed in 2013 with BP to revive Iraq’s northern Kirkuk oilfield and help Baghdad arrest a huge decline in output from Kirkuk and increase production to higher levels, said Jihad.

Kirkuk is one of the biggest and oldest oilfields in the Middle East, still estimated to contain around 9 billion barrels of recoverable oil, according to BP.

BP has provided technical assistance in the past to the Iraqi state-owned North Oil Company to aid the redevelopment of the Kirkuk field.

“BP and the oil ministry will form a joint team to visit Kirkuk oilfield and study the situation on the ground to survey the oilfield,” said the spokesman without giving a timing for when the visit could happen.

Kirkuk has become the key area of tensions between Baghdad and Kurdish regional authorities since Iraqi Kurdistan held an independence referendum in September, triggering an angry response from Baghdad and neighboring Turkey and Iran.

Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces pulled out from Kirkuk oilfields last week as Iraqi military advanced on the area that is responsible for a half of Kurdistan’s oil production, or around 300,000 barrels per day.

The retreat of Peshmerga forces allowed Baghdad to take control of all oil fields operated by state-owned North Oil Company in the Kirkuk northern province.

Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Susan Fenton and Edmund Blair