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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iraq Ready to Resume Oil Exports in June

BAGHDAD -- Iraq expects to resume oil exports within weeks, although satisfying local demand is the priority, a senior Iraqi oil official said Saturday.

"We are having some obstacles, mainly in telecommunications. By two to three weeks, Iraq will be back in the market," Thamir Ghadhban, director of the Oil Ministry, told a news conference at a U.S. military headquarters.

"It will take a few weeks but we should be producing 1.3 to 1.5 million barrels per day by the middle of next month," he said, adding that production ran at 700,000 bpd at present.

The United Nations on Thursday lifted sanctions imposed on Iraq 13 years ago, paving the way for Baghdad to resume oil exports. Iraq produced around 3 million bpd before the U.S.-led invasion removed Saddam Hussein from power two months ago.

It is not clear how much authority Ghadhban wields under U.S. occupation authorities, which appointed an American adviser to the ministry.

Iraq's Oil Ministry, whose marketing division was partly burned in looting that followed the war, would be ready to receive inquiries from traders after the U.S. military supplied it with satellite telephones, Ghadhban said.

Ghadhban, who was head of research when the Baath Party ran the country, said Iraq had 8 million barrels of crude in storage at the Turkish port of Ceyhan and more in storage at oil fields in southern Iraq.