INTERVIEW-Iraq capable of doubling oil output by 2015-IEA
* IEA warns of tight oil markets without Iraqi barrels
* Says current oil price too high, hurting India and China
* Sees no immediate supply problem over Iran oil sanctions
By Yara Bayoumy and Ahmed Rasheed
BAGHDAD, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Iraq is capable of more than doubling its crude oil production within three years, with the pace of further growth slowing steeply afterwards, the West's energy agency said on Wednesday.
Iraq, which sits on the world's fourth-largest reserves, signed deals with major oil firms to boost production levels - currently at about 2.9 million bpd - to as high as 12 million bpd by 2017, betting on rivalling top global producers Russia and Saudi Arabia.
But as the country struggles to rebuild its dilapidated infrastructure and faces daily violence and sabotage attacks nearly nine years after the U.S.-led invasion, officials have said the target could be reduced to around 8 million bpd.
International Energy Agency's chief economist Fatih Birol said on Wednesday he believed Iraq could achieve a production target of 6.5 million bpd by 2015 but that it could take up to 20 years to increase it to 8 million bpd.
"Many Iraqi interlocutors I met are talking about 6.5 million bpd by 2015 and I don't think that this is an unrealistic target, but of course many challenges remain," Birol told Reuters in an interview. Continued...