Iraq firm "discovers one billion barrels of oil"

manyasAn Iraqi oil exploration firm has claimed to have discovered deposits of crude, equivalent to one billion barrels of oil, during its first exploration work in the country in almost three decades

The deposits were found in Maysan province, in southern Iraq near the border with Iran, and could make a significant addition to Baghdad's already substantial reserves.

"Exploration began in Maysan, south of (provincial capital) Amara last year," said Assem Jihad, oil ministry spokesman, according to AFP.

"Today, it completed 100 percent and achieved a big success.

"The initial assessment from this discovery is about one billion barrels of oil," he said, adding that the discoveries would lead to increased production capacity for the Maysan Oil Company.

Jihad said the state-owned oil exploration firm had been carrying out its first exploration work within Iraq in nearly 30 years.

Iraq, which is highly dependent on oil sales for government revenue, has sought in recent years to dramatically ramp up production and exploration in order to help rebuild its conflict-battered economy and infrastructure.

The country has proven reserves of 143.1 billion barrels of oil and 3.2 trillion cubic metres of gas, both of which are among the largest in the world.

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