Gulf Keystone Petroleum announced its field development plan for the Shaikan field was approved and a drilling program was under way at a number of wells in the reserve area.
"Our next immediate target is to complete the company's transition from an exploration to a key producer in the Kurdistan Region in 2013," Chief Operating Officer John Gerstenlauer said in a statement.
Gulf Keystone, a company with headquarters in London, indicated in June the Shaikan field could hold as much as 10.5 billion barrels of oil. The semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government said production would start at 40,000 barrels of oil per day and reach 250,000 bpd by 2018.
KRG and the central government in Baghdad are at odds over laws related to the oil sector. Leaders from both sides have met in their respective administrative centers to discuss what the U.N. mission said were a wide range of issues.