Iraq needs foreign investors in the oil sector to help break a bottleneck at its southern ports, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said.
"We have no restrictions on their [foreign investors] entry. We want them," Maliki told The Wall Street Journal. "We need speed. We need money."
Maliki last year gave the nod to a series of oil deals aimed at boosting the country's oil production to more than 12 million barrels of crude oil per day in less than a decade. Exports and production, however, are limited in part by a lack of infrastructure at southern ports and a slow-moving political system.
Oil production has lingered at around 2.5 million barrels per day from Iraqi fields for years. Maliki said four new oil-exporting terminals off the coast of Basra, however, could push Iraq's export capacity past the 3 million barrel mark by September, a first since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.
Maliki's one-time rival, Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, recently issued a religious edict prohibiting work with foreign companies doing business in Iraq. The prime minister brushed the ruling off as "mere opinion."
(Sources: Wall Street Journal, UPI)