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South Iraq oil exports 2.48m bpd in March, new field to open

Production in southern Iraq averaged 2.5 million bpd in March, and is expected to rise to 2.65 million

Published: Updated:

Oil exports from southern Iraq have averaged 2.48 million barrels per day (bpd) so far in March, a senior official said on Saturday, as Russia's Lukoil prepared to begin production from the country's second-largest field.

Production in the south has averaged 2.5 million bpd so far this month, and should rise to 2.65 million following the inauguration of the giant West Qurna-2 oilfield, Dhiya Jaafar, the head of Iraq's South Oil Company, also said.

Lukoil is due to start pumping crude on Saturday from West Qurna-2, considered the world's second-largest untapped deposit, with initial output of 120,000 bpd, eventually rising to 1.2 million bpd.

The launch of West Qurna-2, with recoverable reserves estimated at around 14 billion barrels, will allow Lukoil, which holds a 75-percent stake in the field, to more than double its overseas output.

For Iraq, OPEC's second-largest producer, it is one of several key fields that will help lift the economy after decades of sanctions and war.