(EnergyAsia, March 1 2011, Tuesday) — The Iraqi government expects to achieve its oil exports target of around 2.2 million b/d for 2011, thanks to a steady rise in shipments from the country’s northern Kurdish region. Iraqi oil exports reached 2.16 million b/d at the end of last month, their highest since the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Government and company officials said the semi-autonomous region now exports around 100,000 b/d, up from just 75,000 b/d a few weeks ago, and could reach 200,000 b/d by the end of the year.

Exports by Iraqi Kurdistan to Norway’s DNO International have risen to 50,000 b/d from its Tawke oil field, while the Taq Taq field, operated by China’s Sinopec and Turkey’s Genel Enerji, accounts for the remaining 25,000 b/d.

The addition of 300,000 b/d of capacity at the southern Rumaila, Zubair and West Qurna Phase 1 fields have also boosted the country’s production.

Iraq, which claims to hold 143 billion barrels of conventional crude reserves, signed 12 major exploration and production deals with international oil companies in 2009 and 2010.