Iraq 'could become world's biggest oil exporter'

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War-torn Iraq could more than double its oil production and become the world's largest producer, according to a new study.

Energy analyst IHS says that the Middle Eastern country could produce an extra 100 billion barrels of oil every year on top of its current level of 116 billion.

The claim is part of IHS' forthcoming Iraq Atlas, which it says is the first detailed analysis of Iraq's oil reserves since the US-led invasion four years ago.

Ahead of the project's publication on May 9th, the oil analyst says that there are potentially 100 billion barrels of oil in Iraq's western desert.

"Most of Iraq's oil production comes from the south of Iraq and is exported via the Persian Gulf because of repeated sabotage attacks on facilities in the north," said Mohamed Zine, IHS regional manager for the Middle East.

"This has resulted in a current production capacity of two million barrels of oil per day."

Mr Zine explained that the Iraq Atlas had suggested that a "stable political and civil environment" could enable Iraq to produce an extra four million barrels a day in the immediate future.

If Iraq was able to produce more than 216 billion barrels of oil every year it would overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's largest producer of the raw material.

IHS says that prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the country was producing 2.7 million barrels per day, compared to 3.6 million prior to the country's conflict with Iran in the 1980s.

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