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LONDON, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Oil producer Gulf Keystone Petroleum has returned all staff to its operations in Iraqi Kurdistan after evacuating international contractors from the region due to escalating violence in August.
Production at the Kurdistan-focused company's flagship Shaikan field was only affected by security threats for one day in August and the oil producer said it was continuing to increase output from the field to 40,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) by around the end of the year.
Daily production levels at the field have averaged 23,000 barrels since the firm's last market update on Aug. 28, Gulf Keystone said.
Shares in the company were trading 7.2 percent higher at 0848 GMT.
Gulf Keystone is still awaiting payments for some of its crude exported via trucks through Turkey and has started diverting more supply to the domestic market.
The oil producer is now selling around 30 percent of oil from Shaikan to the local market and has made $9.4 million in gross revenue from domestic oil sales since the end of August.
"Receiving steady revenues from our domestic sales is positive as we continue our constructive discussions regarding a stable payment cycle for past and future export sales," said Chief Executive John Gerstenlauer.
At the end of August the company said it was owed $35 million in crude export sales, but it did not provide an update of this figure on Wednesday.
"While cash receipts via the domestic market is a positive event, there is a limit to how much Shaikan heavy crude the local market can absorb and therefore a resolution of the export issue is crucial for the company," said Mirabaud Securities analysts.
Gulf Keystone said 17 cargoes containing around 4 million gross barrels of Shaikan crude have so far been sold to the international market since January this year. (Reporting by Karolin Schaps; editing by Jason Neely and William Hardy)