Iraq's new oil minister says the country's oil production has reached two-and-a-half million barrels a day.
Speaking Sunday on the U.S. Cable News Network, Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani said Iraq expects its daily oil production to reach nearly three million barrels a day by the end of this year and about four million barrels a day by the year 2010.
Shahristani said the country's goal is to rival Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, in oil production and exports and to establish that it holds the largest proven oil and gas reserves in the world.
Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, oil production had been stuck at two million barrels a day, with exports of one-and-a-half barrels a day. Pre-war output was just under three million barrels a day with exports of around two million barrels.
President Bush has called Iraq's increased oil production an "extremely positive" development and said he hoped the Iraqi government would use oil revenue as a way of uniting rival political factions.Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.