BAGHDAD Iraq's oil minister has urged oil and natural gas producers operating in the country to continue increasing output next year, the oil ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
Jabar al-Luaibi's comments came as OPEC nations are trying to implement an agreement to curb oil output for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, in order to push up crude prices.
The ministry's statement quoted remarks Luaibi made to a meeting of Iraq oil industry executives in the southern oil city of Basra to review the ministry's oilfields' development plans.
It made no mention of the decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Sept. 28 to reduce output to a range of between 32.50 million barrels per day and 33.0 million bpd.
OPEC's production stood at around 33.6 million bpd in September, according to a Reuters survey that put Iraq's output at 4.43 million bpd.
The minister "has affirmed the need to proceed forth with increasing oil and gas production through enhancing the national effort and those of the licensed companies for the remainder of 2016 and also for 2017," the statement said.
Foreign companies' oil output targets "should be reached within the assigned periods," the ministry quoted Luaibi as saying.
The ministry also aims to increase associated gas output by adding 350 to 450 million cubic feet a day to the nation's production in 2017, Luaibi said.
Natural gas output levels in Iraq's southern region are tied to crude production levels as the two are produced from the same reservoirs.
(Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Susan Fenton)