Iraq eyes big re­bound

The Pak Banker - - INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS/SPORTS -

The first oil pro­duc­tion of what could be the world's fourth-largest oil project, run by a Dubai-based Rus­sian con­sor­tium, has been of­fi­cially marked by top politi­cians who say the project sig­nals the resur­gence of Iraq.

Lukoil, which last year moved its in­ter­na­tional head­quar­ters to Dubai as it seeks to gen­er­ate greater oil pro­duc­tion out­side of Rus­sia, says if its West Qurna 2 oil­field in Basra ful­fils tar­get oil pro­duc­tion, it will be its high­est-yield oil­field, ex­pected to pro­duce up to 1.2 mil­lion bar­rels of oil per day by 2018. Since Sun­day, it has been pro­duc­ing 120,000 bar­rels a day.

Speak­ing at Sun­day's in­au­gu­ra­tion, Rus­sian Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Arkady Dvorkovich said: "Even for Rus­sia this vol­ume is big and it's a great suc­cess."

Com­pa­nies from the UAE are among some of those from 20 dif­fer­ent coun­tries that helped in the oil­field's two-year con­struc­tion, which re­quired 11,000 em­ploy­ees at its peak. Dvorkovich read a let­ter from Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin in­tended for Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Nouri Al Ma­liki, who was a no-show at the event.

"We are com­mit­ted to as­sist­ing Iraq in its re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion." He said they would help the coun­try over­come ter­ror­ism threats "which are the most se­ri­ous chal­lenges not only for your coun­try but for the en­tire Mid­dle East".

The in­au­gu­ra­tion comes amid moves by the US to re­duce Euro­pean de­pen­dence on Rus­sian en­ergy sup­plies, in the wake of the Crimean cri­sis.

Iraqi En­ergy Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Hus­sain Al Shahris­tani said the launch was a happy oc­ca­sion for the whole coun­try. "[Some] thought that Iraq would not have such a big in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment in such a short time. But we bet­ted that we have the will of Iraqis. We have the ef­fi­ciency and the pro­fi­ciency of the com­pa­nies selected and Lukoil was the fore­most of these."Iraqis who had lost land through the oil­field de­vel­op­ment would be com­pen­sated "even more than the price of their land", and all would now reap ben­e­fits from de­vel­op­ment af­ter a long pe­riod of suf­fer­ing.

"You have been very pa­tient but it's now time to en­joy the wealth and re­sources in your land and I rec­om­mend the oil com­pa­nies [for­eign and Iraqi] should give spe­cial at­ten­tion to giv­ing so­cial ser­vices to the people liv­ing here and there must be ex­penses given for the so­cial ser­vices in this re­gion." Lukoil Group pres­i­dent Vagit Al­ex­perov said the field was the largest oil­field in the world that re­mained un­tapped. "This is a his­tor­i­cal mo­ment, this is a mo­ment for Iraq's re­cov­ery and the re­la­tions be­tween our coun­tries [as well as the com­pany]," he said.

The 340sqkm field is the fourth-largest oil project in the world by tar­get oil plateau pro­duc­tion. Iraq, which ranks fourth by oil re­serves and 12th in pro­duc­tion, has some of the world's most un­ex­plored and un­tapped oil re­serves.

Al­ex­perov said the project hap­pened faster than ex­pected and tar­gets had been achieved de­spite a tight dead­line. It was a boon for Basra's work­force with as many as 6,500 em­ployed dur­ing con­struc­tion and 398 con­tin­u­ing at the plant, out of the al­most 1,200 staff cur­rently work­ing. Of those, 310 re­ceived train­ing from Lukoil.

"We es­tab­lished the so­cially-re­spon­si­ble en­vi­ron­ment. We are proud that [the project gen­er­ated em­ploy­ment] on this scale." Lukoil has a 75 per cent stake in the project, while the Iraqi state oil com­pany has the re­main­der.

The Rus­sian com­pany, run­ning since 1991, car­ries out oil and gas ex­plo­ration in more than 30 dif­fer­ent coun­tries, largely through­out East­ern Europe.

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