BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq's cabinet approved on Tuesday four deals with foreign energy firms to dramatically ramp up the country's oil output, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

The agreements include one with Anglo-Dutch giant Shell and Malaysia's Petronas for the enormous Majnoon field in southern Iraq, and come less than a month after Baghdad auctioned seven contracts to foreign oil companies.

"The cabinet approved the contracts for the fields of Majnoon, Garraf, Qaiyarah and Najmah," Dabbagh said in a statement.

That paves the way for contracts to be signed, though it was not immediately clear when this would take place.

The four deals are among 10 that Iraq reached with foreign energy firms last year, though only one contract has so far been signed.

Shell and Petronas will receive 1.39 dollars per barrel of oil extracted from Majnoon, which has known reserves of 12.58 billion barrels. They expect to produce 1.8 million barrels per day.

At Garraf, Petronas and Japan's Japex will get 1.49 dollars per barrel and estimates output at 230,000 bpd. The field has proven reserves of 863 million barrels.

Angolan company Sonangol will operate Najmah and Qaiyarah on its own, receiving six dollars and 5.50 dollars per barrel, respectively.

It projects output at Najmah, which has reserves of 858 million barrels, at 110,000 bpd. Production at Qaiyarah, which has reserves of 807 million barrels, is expected to be 120,000 bpd.

The Iraqi government auctioned the four fields in December, massively increasing projected crude production to 12 million bpd within seven years, from current output of around 2.5 million.

But security and dilapidated infrastructure remain key obstacles to Baghdad achieving that target.

Iraq has the world's third-largest oil reserves -- behind only Saudi Arabia and Iran -- with an estimated 115 billion barrels.