Iraq oil output likely to hit 3.4m bpd in 2012

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Iraqi oil production is likely to hit 3.4 million barrels per day (bpd) while exports are expected to average 2.9 million bpd by next year, the top energy advisor to the Iraqi prime minister said on Tuesday.

"Next year, the plan is for 2.9 million barrels per day of export," Thamir Ghadhban told reporters in Dubai.

Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul-Kareem Luaibi said earlier this week that Iraqi crude exports were to exceed 2.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in September and estimated production at more than 3.3 mln bpd.

With the help of foreign firms, Iraq has ambitious plans to boost production capacity beyond 12 million bpd by 2017, but this target has proved unrealistic due to infrastructure bottlenecks and logistical shortcomings.

It is expected to target 8-8.5 million bpd, but some oil analysts and executives see even 6 million bpd by 2017 as a stretch for the war-torn country.

Under U.S. and European sanctions on the country over its controversial nuclear program, Iranian output has declined sharply this year, forcing it into third place on OPEC's list of largest oil producers, just behind Iraq.

Asked if the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries expects to return to set quotas per country, Ghadban said the issue was not urgent. "We are not in a hurry...it is not an issue right now."

Iraq has proposed Ghadhban, a former oil minister and current top energy advisor to the country's prime minister, for the post of OPEC Secretary General. He declined to comment if expects to win the election.

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