Iraq said it was resuming exploration of its immense oil reserves after a break of nearly 20 years because of crippling UN sanctions.

“Today the Iraqi oil ministry celebrates a return to work by Iraqi oil exploration teams after 20 years of interruption,” ministry spokesman Assim Jihad told AFP.

Oil Minister Hussein Hussein al-Shahristani will attend a ceremony to mark the event at the Al-Garraf near Nasiriyah 350 kilometres (220 miles) south of Baghdad, Jihad said.

He said the ministry would deploy three exploration teams trained abroad in the latest techniques.

Iraq hopes the squads will uncover deposits that will enable it to double its proven oil reserves, currently standing at 115 billion barrels of crude.

(Rigzone)