WEST QURNA 1 OILFIELD, Iraq, June 17 (Reuters) - Production at Iraq’s giant West Qurna 1 oilfield in the south has reached 465,000 barrels per day (bpd) after the completion of new crude processing facilities and oil storage tanks, Iraqi oil officials said on Monday.
West Qurna 1 oilfield, developed by Exxon, was previously producing about 440,000 bpd, officials working at the field told Reuters on the sideline of a ceremony to launch the new installations.
Exxon’s foreign staff were present, having returned to the oilfield on June 2, two weeks after Exxon pulled about 60 people from the oilfield and flew them to Dubai.
The evacuation came days after the United States withdrew non-essential staff from its embassy in Baghdad, citing a threat from neighboring Iran.
Iraqi oilfield officials said Exxon’s foreign staff, including senior management and engineers, returned to the oilfield only after the Iraqi government agreed to provide extra security measures at the field, including the deployment of additional police and armed forces.
The officials and Exxon managers accompanied reporters on a tour inside West Qurna 1 on Monday where armored vehicles and soldiers from the Iraqi army were seen stationed at the gates of the oil production facilities.
Two new crude processing facilities with a joint capacity to process 150,000 bpd of oil, a unit to separate water and oil and five oil storage tanks started testing operations on Monday. The new projects would help to boost production at the field to progressively reach 490,000 bpd, said a senior oilfield manager.
Iraq is producing slightly more than 4.5 million bpd, below its full capacity of nearly 5 million bpd in line with an agreement between OPEC and other producers such as Russia to curtail global supply in order to support prices.
Reporting by Aref Mohammed; Writing by Ahmed Rasheed; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise