Royal Dutch Shell officially opened the Majnoon oil field in southern Iraq on Sunday with the goal of reaching 175,000 barrels a day in the coming weeks.

Majnoon, near the city of Basra in southern Iraq, is one of four major fields the country is developing with foreign companies. The field is vital to their plan to increase its output from the current production level of 3.2m to 6m bpd.

Hussein al Shahristani, the Iraqi deputy prime minister for energy, said in Dubai last month that output from the field is expected to rise to almost 200,000 barrels a day before the end of the year.

Iraq signed a series of service contracts with major oil companies such as Shell, ExxonMobil, Total, BP, and Eni SpA at the end of 2009 to develop its oil fields.

Shell and  Petronas were awarded the deal in December 2009 to develop the field located near the Iranian borders.

Shell owns 45% of the Majnoon venture, Petronas owns 30%, and the Iraq state-run company holding 25%.

They have pledged to eventually raise production from Majnoon to 1.8m  bpd.


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