September 30, 2010 / 9:43 AM / 10 years ago

Iraq to announce big rise in oil reserves Monday

BAGHDAD, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Iraq will announce on Monday a “big increase” in its oil reserves, currently 115 billion barrels, a spokesman for the oil ministry said on Thursday.

Iraq’s crude reserves are the world’s third largest but its production lags. The government has signed a series of deals with oil majors to ramp up output capacity to about 12 million barrels per day from around 2.5 million bpd now.

“The oil minister will announce on Monday a new higher figure for Iraq’s crude reserves and it will include a big increase compared to the old figure of around 115 billion barrels,” Oil Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said.

Companies such as U.S. giant ExxonMobil (XOM.N), Britain’s BP (BP.L), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), Russia’s Lukoil (LKOH.MM), Eni of Italy (ENI.MI) and China’s CNPC have signed on to develop Iraq’s rich oilfields.

The government needs to boost oil revenues to rebuild after years of war, international sanctions and neglect.

Jihad said Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani would hold a news conference on Monday to announce the new figure.

“The big increase ... is going to be an incentive and encouragement to more oil companies to come and work in Iraq,” he said.

The Iraqi government has said in the past it believes actual reserves could be up to three times as high as the current figure.

“The new figure will be very important to Iraq,” Jihad quoted Shahristani as saying. (Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed, writing by Jim Loney)

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