Iraq is planning to increase production from the giant Rumaila oil field to about 1.5 million barrels per day (MMbbl/d) in 2018, the head of Rumaila operations said.

Rumaila oil field, developed by Britain’s BP and Chinese partner CNPC, now produces about 1.45 MMbbl/d, Mohammed Hassan told Reuters late on Nov. 28.

“Our plan for 2018 is to boost production by around 50,000 barrels per day after increasing water injections operations and starting new energy installations at Rumaila,” Hassan said.

One of two new 48-in. pipelines used to bring water from a nearby water injection facility will be operational in early 2018, helping raise the amount of water for injection to 1.3 MMbbl/d next year.

BP operates the Garmat Ali water facility near Basra which now produces 1.25 MMbbl/d of treated water used for injecting oil wells, Hassan said. Water injection is core to the development of the southern fields and partly aims to push oil to the surface and overcome falling output from fields such as Rumaila, West Qurna, Zubair and Majnoon.

Hassan said once the Rumaila development plan for 2018 was approved by the Oil Ministry, BP would start drilling about 50 new oil wells to help boost production.

“We have plans to start work at a new desalinating crude processing facility in early 2018 that will help to improve crude quality,” Hassan said.

The field, which has estimated reserves of about 17 billion barrels, produces the bulk of Iraq’s total output.