NEW YORK, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Iraq should be able to boost oil production significantly through fresh foreign investment, but plans to raise oil output to 10 million-12 million barrels a day are not realistic, the chief executive of French oil giant Total SA (TOTF.PA) said.
Iraqi government officials have said new bidding rounds to attract foreign oil companies to develop the country’s oil reserves may result in eventual production of 12 million barrels a day, or about five times Iraq’s current daily output of 2.5 million barrels. Top exporter Saudi Arabia currently produces around 9 million barrels.
“The 12 million barrels is crazy,” Total CEO Christophe de Margerie told reporters late Thursday after a panel talk at Columbia University in New York.
“We know there’s a potential to maybe reach 7 to 8 million barrels someday, and that alone would be a tremendous success.”
Total’s CEO also said he was skeptical about the success of further oil field bidding rounds in Iraq after a first round in June was abandoned by most foreign majors, including Total, which protested stiff contract terms imposed by Iraq.
De Margerie said he was not convinced that companies signing deals in Iraq so far would produce as much oil as Iraq officials expected them to.
“Why aren’t we going forward, why are we doing this? It’s because at the end of the day Iraq will say this is what was promised,” de Margerie said.
The only deal that emerged unscathed from Iraq’s June bidding round is an agreement under which BP (BP.L) and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) plan to further develop Iraq’s 17 billion barrel Rumaila field, which already accounts for nearly half of Iraqi crude output.
Iraq, which holds the world’s third-largest oil reserves, has seen a drop in crude output after years of war. Iraq’s government is counting on help from foreign majors to help turn it into one of the world’s top three producers by around 2015. (Reporting by Joshua Schneyer; editing by Jim Marshall)