BASRA, Iraq - Iraq has the capacity to increase its oil production by 200,000 barrel per day (bpd) this year if asked, an executive of Iraq's Basra Oil Co. (BOC) told Reuters on Friday.
"If Iraq is asked to increase production, we can add 200 thousand barrels until the end of the year as available production capacity," Hassan Mohammed, deputy BOC manager in charge of oilfields and licensing rounds affairs, said in an interview.
"But (to produce) more than this amount, (we) need more time." The increase will come from West Qurna 1 oilfields and other oilfields developed by Iraqi state-run oil companies, Mohammed added.
This comes two weeks after U.S. President Joe Biden's visit to Saudi Arabia as part of his first trip to the Middle East as U.S. president, hoping to strike a deal on oil production to help drive down gasoline prices.
Oil prices have rocketed to their highest levels since 2008, climbing above $139 a barrel in March, after the United States and Europe imposed sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a "special military operation". Prices have slipped since then.
Separately, Indonesia's state-owned oil and gas firm Pertamina bought 10 percent of Exxon Mobil's stake in Iraq's West Qurna 1 oilfield, increasing its share to 20 percent, while BOC bought 22.7 percent of the field.
In January, the Iraqi government gave its approval for the Iraqi National Oil Company to acquire Exxon Mobil Corp's stake in the giant West Qurna 1 oilfield.
West Qurna 1, in southern Iraq, is one of the world's largest oilfields with recoverable reserves estimated at more than 20 billion barrels. It produces around 550,000 barrels per day, Mohammed said.
State-run Basra Oil Company told Reuters last year Exxon was seeking to sell its 32.7% stake in the field for $350 million.
OPEC's second-largest oil producer can increase its export capacity by 3 million barrels per day (bpd) if within two years Iraq upgrades its key undersea oil exports pipelines and its two onshore ports, Mohammed said.
He also said a third oil pipeline at the Khor al-Amaya oil terminal in southern Iraq and a fifth single point mooring (spm) will be operational with capacity of 1 million barrels per day by the end of 2024.
Iraq's exports 3.3 million barrels per day. China Petroleum Engineering & Construction Corp (CPECC) has won a $300 million contract to build an energy station at giant Rumaila oilfield in Iraq, he added.
(Reporting by Aref Mohammed, writing by Amina Ismail; editing by David Evans)