BAGHDAD, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Iraq expects the output of crude oil to increase by about 400,000 barrels of oil per day by early next year, the country's oil minister said.
Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani told Bloomberg News that he expected a rise in oil output for 2011.
"Iraq's oil production capacity will increase to 2.75 million barrels a day early next year," he said.
Iraqi oil production and exports have been hurt by lingering violence and a lack of investments by the former government of Saddam Hussein. Production is currently about 2.35 million bpd.
The government awarded a series of oil contracts through auctions last year, prompting Baghdad to say it would one day rival Saudi Arabia.
Iraq gets most of its revenue from oil sales, though rich natural gas deposits have drawn international interest. The country aims to sign off on gas deals with Royal Dutch Shell and Mitsubishi by the end of January.
The consortium managing plans for the Nabucco gas pipeline said in October that it confirmed and ordered engineering work for feeder lines from Georgia and Iraq to connect to the main artery in Turkey.
Europe aims to break Russia's grip on the regional energy sector with Nabucco, though the project is slow to attract formal supply commitments.