WASHINGTON, July 27 (UPI) -- Iraq's oil minister met with the U.S. energy secretary and more than a dozen oil company officials during a visit to the U.S. Energy Department.
Hussein al-Shahristani said the meeting Wednesday was an initial step toward developing Iraqi oil reserves, currently plagued by war-torn infrastructure and attacks on its oil network.
He said partnering with oil companies will be necessary.
Those at the meeting Wednesday included representatives from ExxonMobil, Shell and BP.
Shahristani announced the meeting at a joint news conference with Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and Iraqi Minister of Electricity Karim Wahid al-Hasan.
Shahristani said he wants at least a 3 million barrel per day output by the end of 2006 and between 4 million bpd and 4.5 million bpd in three to four years.
The goal is a lofty one -- the U.S. Energy Department's data arm, the Energy Information Administration, estimates current Iraq oil production at 1.9 million bpd, compared with a peak of nearly 2.6 million bpd during the Saddam Hussein regime.
Iraq's oil pipelines, installations and personnel have been attacked 316 times since June 12, 2003, according to the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security.
Electricity is spotty in Iraq, which creates further problems for oil production.