MOSCOW, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Russia's private oil company Lukoil announced that it started drilling operations in the West Qurna-2 oil field near the Iraqi port city of Basra.
"We have launched drilling, well borers are already there," company chief Vagit Alekperov was quoted by Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying.
Lukoil and Norwegian energy company Statoil won the rights to develop West Qurna in 2009 but didn't start work there because of military conflict in Iraq.
Revisions of estimated reserves in Iraq led the country's oil minister to say that there at least 143 billion barrels of oil in the country. Reserve estimates for West Qurna-2 are around 13 billion barrels.
Full-scale production is slated by the end of 2012. The field should reach a peak production rate of 1.8 million barrels per day by 2017 and sustain that level for more than a decade.
West Qurna-2 is about 40 miles northwest of Basra near outlets to the Persian Gulf.