Oil output in Iraq is expected to exceed 2.8 million barrels a day in October, the most in over three decades, and could hit 6.1 million barrels a day by 2020, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The IEA estimates are about 50% lower than production targets stated by Iraq in its contracts with international oil companies, which call for oil output of as much as 12 million barrels per day by 2017, Reuters noted.
While Iraq sits on the fourth-largest oil reserves on Earth, it has been largely unable to exploit that resource due to sanctions imposed against the regime of former dictator Saddam Hussein and years of conflict following the 2003 U.S. invasion. Industry experts expressed skepticism over Iraq’s ability to meet its own projections, calling the IEA’s estimates more “plausible” given the country’s internal conditions.
In the last two years, the country has negotiated deals with leading international oil firms, including Exxon Mobil(NYSE:XOM) and BP (NYSE:BP) that have boosted its output significantly. It is now OPEC’s second-largest oil producer behind Saudi Arabia.
Still, Iraq faces numerous challenges, including ongoing internal strife and corruption that could delay oil-field development.