This sort of statement, with the amount or year changed slightly in each variant, has been made by several oil ministers on several occasions, but with oil prices still at supportive levels for producers this latest statement prompts three key questions: can it be done; can even more be done; and will it be done?
The answer to the first question is yes. As analysed in depth in my new book on the global oil markets, Iraq – even more so than Iran - remains the greatest relatively underdeveloped oil frontier in the world. Officially, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA) figures, Iraq holds a very conservatively estimated 145 billion barrels of proved crude oil reserves (nearly 18 percent of the Middle East’s total, and around 9 percent of the world’s). Currently, it is producing around 4.1-4.2 million bpd, compared to its April OPEC quota of 4.414 million bpd, and its quota is due to increase to 4.5 million bpd in June.
Although Iraq is currently only managing to produce around 4.1-4.3 million bpd, this shortfall is largely attributable to field outages in the south for maintenance reasons, most notably the 400,000 bpd West Qurna 2 oilfield being offline for 12 days of maintenance, and to ongoing upgrading work being done on its export infrastructure. From 2015 to 2020, Iraq crude oil production was frequently recoded at over 4.5 million bpd, with its highest monthly production being 4.83 million bpd in December 2016, according to OPEC figures.