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By Hassan Hafidh
LONDON--Iraq's untapped southern Halfaya oil field is expected to start pumping oil for the first time this summer, the top energy advisor to Iraq's prime minister said Monday, adding that the government's realistic output target for national production is 9 million barrels a day by the end of 2020.
"Halfaya is expected to start producing 70,000 barrels a day this summer," Thamir Ghadhban told an Iraqi energy conference organized by CWC Group in London.
Majnoon oil field, which is being developed by a consortium led by Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA), is also expected "hopefully" to start pumping new oil by the end of this year. The field is currently producing 65,000 barrels a day.
Head of Shell's Iraq operations Hans Nijkamp told reporters that the Anglo-Dutch major was planning to reach 175,000 barrels a day from first commercial production from Majnoon oil field. "We expect mechanical completion by the end of this year," he said, without giving any other timescale.
Ahdab oil field, being developed by PetroChina Co, has recently started producing 120,000 barrels a day, Mr. Ghadhban said.
Mr. Ghadhban said the government is considering some scenarios for increasing production but the most realistic one is bringing Iraq's production to 9 million barrels a day by the end of 2020 from around 3 million barrels a day now.
This target is actually a revision of the country's previously stated output goal of 12 million barrels a day. Industry analysts and executives have cautioned that this is unrealistic. In particular, the war-damaged country's lack of adequate export infrastructure and insufficient water supplies--a key component when pumping crude--mean this ambition is little more than a pipe dream.
Iraqi oil minister Abdul Kareem Luaiby said in Vienna last week that his ministry is talking to international companies to rework a new production plan for each of the oil fields which are being developed by international companies. He gave no further details.
Iraq has been able to raise crude oil output nearly two years after signing mega projects with some of the world's largest oil firms. Production has hit 3 million barrels a day now from 2.5 million barrels a day last year. Export is now around 2.4 million barrels a day from less than 2 million barrels a day last year.
Mr. Ghadhban said the plan is to increase output to 3.4 million barrels a day by the end of this year and to 4.4 million barrels a day in 2014.
Write to Hassan Hafidh at Hassan.Hafidh@dowjones.com