Iraq inaugurates prized southern oil field

Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq has inaugurated a prized oil field in its oil-rich south, the latest major step in developing the country's untapped energy resources.

Development of the 4.945 billion barrel Halfaya field is being led by China's National Petroleum Corporation, which along with partners Petronas from Malaysia and Total SA of France won rights to the location in Maysan province in late 2009.

Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul-Karim Elaibi said Wednesday the field will produce 100,000 barrels a day and reach 535,000 barrels a day in 2016. The consortium will be paid $1.40 for each barrel of oil they extract at the site.

Foreign investment is vital for war-torn Iraq to develop after decades of war, U.N. sanctions and neglect. Oil revenues make up nearly 95 percent of the government budget.