UPDATE 2-Iraq sees exports reaching 6 mln bpd by 2017

Ahmed Rasheed

* Exports seen at 6 mln bps in 2017

* Production now at 3.2 mln bpd

* Sept. exports could overcome 2.6 mln bpd

(Adds exports, quotes, details)

BAGHDAD, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Iraq laid out more milestones

on its path back to oil producing power, targeting 6 million

barrels per day exports by 2017, and confirming it was currently

pumping more than neighbour and fellow OPEC member Iran.

Iraq's Oil Minister Abdul-Kareem Luaibi said on Saturday he

expected oil exports will reach 2.9 million bpd next year before

hitting 3.5 million bpd in 2014 and 3.75 million bpd in 2015.

Current production is at 3.2 million bpd, the highest level

in three decades, and exports are at an average of 2.6 million


"We expect exports for this month to be more than 2.6

million barrels per day. So far they are at 2.6 million barrels

per day, and output is at 3.2 million," the minister told


Iraq with the help of foreign firms has ambitious plans to

boost production capacity beyond 12 million bpd by 2017, but

this target has proved unrealistic due to infrastructure

bottlenecks and logistical shortcomings.

It is expected to target 8-8.5 million bpd, but some oil

analysts and executives see even 6 million bpd by 2017 as a

stretch for the war-damaged country.

Any rise in Iraqi supplies would replace shortages of

Iranian crude from the market and could keep a lid on prices as

Western sanctions targeted Iran's exports.

Recovering from decades of war and crippling sanctions, Iraq

is seeking to boost its oil flows. The bulk of its crude oil is

exported from southern Gulf ports.

With ambitious plans to double its oil production over the

next three years, Iraq has passed the 3 million bpd production

level for the first time in three decades and has overtaken Iran

to become OPEC's second biggest oil producer after Saudi Arabia.

"Iraq production now is at 3.2 mln bpd and we managed to

outpace Iran production in OPEC due to the deteriorated Iranian

production," Falah al-Amri, Iraq's OPEC governor and head of the

State Oil Marketing Organisation, told reporters on the sideline

of an oil conference in Baghdad.

Iraq's oil exports rose to 2.565 million barrels per day

(bpd) on average in August, their highest level for three


Iraq's central government and the autonomous Kurdistan

reached a deal, announced on Thursday, to end an oil payment

dispute after Kurdistan pledged to continue exports and Baghdad

said it would pay foreign companies working there.

Under the agreement, Kurdistan said it would keep its oil

production for export at 140,000 barrels per day this month

before raising it to 200,000 bpd for the rest of the year,

levels that could significantly further boosting Iraq's exports.

If the deal stands, it will be a limited breakthrough in a

broader long-running dispute over land, energy resources and

authority to sign energy contracts between the central

government and the Kurdistan region.

Luaibi said investment in Iraq over the last two and a half

years to develop oilfields awarded to foreign companies in three

auctions had reached to around $15 billion, a healthy figure but

still below the government's ambitions.

Iraq holds the world's fourth largest oil reserves.

(Editing by William Hardy)