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Iraq will be a leading force at Opec’s upcoming meeting, US official says

IRAQ’S string of deals with oil majors has catapulted it to importance ahead of Opec’s meeting in Angola later this month, according to the US.

The oil cartel is set to meet on 22 December, and much focus will be on Iraq following new ambitious output targets set by Baghdad over the weekend.

Iraq’s “supergiant” oil fields were auctioned off on Friday and Saturday to energy giants including Shell.

Shell led a consortium to develop a 12.6bn-barrel Southern Iraqi oilfield – Majnoon – and pledged to boost up daily production to 1.8m barrels of oil a day (bpd).

“They’re [Iraq] going to be a big player that wants to come back to the table, so they’re going to have to negotiate with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela and the other OPEC members,” an anonymous US official said.

Baghdad wants to produce 12m bpd within seven years, a massive increase on the 2.5m it produces right now.

The world’s biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, has a capacity of 12.5bpd.

If the country did hit its daily total of 12m barrels, Iraq would overtake Russia and challenge Saudi Arabia for the position of the world’s largest oil producer.

Hussein al-Shahristani, who is the country’s oil minister, hailed the weekend’s auction – the second such auction since 2003 – a “major success,” saying it was “a big achievement for Iraq to win such contracts at the current prices”.