Bagdad - Iraq said on Sunday it has discovered deposits of
crude equivalent to one billion barrels of oil after the first exploration work
by state-owned firms in almost 30 years.
The deposits were found after exploration in Maysan
province, in southern Iraq near the border with Iran, and could potentially
make a significant addition to Baghdad's already substantial reserves.
"Exploration began in Maysan, south of (provincial
capital) Amara" last year, oil ministry spokesperson Assem Jihad said.
"Today, it completed 100% and achieved a big success.
"The initial assessment from this discovery is about
one billion barrels of oil," he said, adding: "It will increase
production capacity for (state-owned) Maysan Oil Company."
Jihad said the state-owned oil exploration firm had been
carrying out its first exploration work within Iraq in nearly three decades.
Iraq, which is highly dependent on oil sales for government
revenue, has sought in recent years to dramatically ramp up production and
exploration in order to help rebuild its conflict-battered economy and
The country has proven reserves of 143.1 billion barrels of
oil and 3.2 trillion cubic metres (111.9 trillion cubic feet) of gas, both of
which are among the largest in the world.
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