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BAGHDAD, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Iraq is planning to start offshore oil and gas exploration to boost the OPEC nation's reserves, Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said in a statement on Monday.
Luaibi said he “gave guidance to the Oil Exploration Company about the importance of exploring territorial waters to assess the hydrocarbons reserves and to boost Iraq’s capacity".
Iraq last week announced an increase in its oil reserves to 153 billion barrels from a previous estimate of 143 billion barrels. Iraq has boosted output rapidly in recent years with the help of foreign oil companies to become OPEC's second-largest producer behind Saudi Arabia. It agreed at the end of November to take part in an OPEC agreement to cut global supply to help to lift oil prices. (Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by David Goodman)