Iraq has positively surprised oil majors by starting quickly to repay accumulated debts, the head of Russia’s Lukoil said, pledging more investment to allow OPEC’s second-largest producer to maintain stellar output growth, Reuters reported.

According to Gulf Digital News, Iraq has become the world’s fastest-growing oil producer with output up 50% since it signed contracts worth tens of billions of dollars with the likes of Lukoil, BP, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell at the end of the last decade to help develop its huge oilfields.

However growth in production to around 4.5mbp/d has lagged initial plans as oil majors have repeatedly complained about red tape, poor security and rising debts. Vagit Alekperov, Chief Executive and a major shareholder of Lukoil, said: “Iraq is very actively repaying the operators. The situation has changed dramatically.”

He added: “We hope they pay back all debts by November so we can start a new investment cycle before the end of the year. Our long-term Iraqi production goal remains intact – 1.2mbp/d. Iraqi fields have huge potential.”