Even if Iraq's southern oil fields and export facilities remain untouched by the horrifying violence that's swept the north, once widely-held expectations for a doubling or even tripling of Iraqi oil production in coming years likely need to be scaled back, analysts say. And if so, expectations that the price of a barrel of Brent crude could drop back below triple digits might be dashed as well.


The International Energy Agency in October 2012 forecast Iraqi production would more than double to 6 million barrels a day by 2020 and would top 8 million barrels a day by 2035. The forecast saw Iraq playing a key role in servicing growing demand from Asia, particularly China, and saw Iraq overtaking Russia to become the world's second-largest oil exporter by the 2030s. The Iraqi government has set a target for daily production of 10 million barrels a day by 2017.


Iraqi oil production eventually began to gather steam, topping 2 million barrels a day in 2007 and hitting a peak of 3.6 million barrels a day in February, according to the IEA. For now, analysts are downplaying any major threat to Iraqi exports, which are pegged at around 2.5 million barrels a day.

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