Burning excess hydrocarbons at natural gas field near Iraqi port of Basra (AFP/file photo)
The Iraqi cabinet on Sunday approved a plan to raise the nation's crude oil output capacity to 6.5 million barrels per day by 2022, according to a government statement.
Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said in January capacity was currently close to 5 million bpd.
The country is producing more than 4.4 million bpd in line with an agreement between the 14-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other exporters, including Russia, to cut supply and boost oil prices.
Iraq bumps up the date it will award new oil contracts by more than two months https://t.co/mSKWD9iR7q
— CNBC (@CNBC) April 1, 2018
OPEC's second-largest producer after Saudi Arabia, Iraq plans to award oil and gas exploration and development contracts in 11 new blocks on 15 April.
Iraq had initially set 21 June as the date to open the bids for the new blocks, located in border areas with Iran and Kuwait, and in offshore Gulf waters.
Bidding documents will be made available to oil companies planning to make offers on 13 April. The offers will have to be submitted on 15 April and the winners will be announced the same day, he added.
The Iraqi government depends on the sector for more than 90 percent of its income.