Iraq continues on oil field development

Feb 25, 1998 01:00 AM

Jan. 7, 1998 French Elf Aquitaine and Total have reached agreement with Iraq on almost all aspects related to the development of two giant oil fields, according to Taha Hmoud, an Oil Ministry official.
"We have reached with them a very advanced stage. There are no problems or obstacles. We are waiting for the appropriate time to sign the deals with Elf and Total.
Work on development of the southern oil fields is not expected until U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait are lifted.
The sanctions prevent Iraq from selling oil, its economic mainstay, and limit financial dealings with the country.
Despite the sanctions, Iraq has been encouraging potential partners to sign contracts.
Elf is looking to develop the Majnoon field, Iraq's single largest oil resource. The field was discovered in 1975 by Brazil's Brasperto. Recoverable reserves are estimated at 30 bn barrels of heavy to medium crude. Initially, Elf will be aiming to produce 750,000 bpd, to be boosted laterto as much as 2 mm bpd.
The Majnoon field is about 400 km (250 miles) southeast of Baghdad, and the Nahr Umar field, which Total is bidding on, is just to the south.
The Nahr Umar field was discovered in 1949 by Iraq Petroleum Co. Recoverable reserves are put at 6 bn barrels, and Total aims for production at a rate of 300,000 bpd to 500,000 bpd.
Elf and Total, Hmoud said, have accepted Iraq's production sharing contracts for the fields.
Iraq also is talking with the Russians, and Hmoud said negotiations were going "very smoothly" and that the two sides were discussing "practical measures."
Russia's largest oil company, Lukoil, and partners Zarubezhneft and Mashinoimport agreed in March last year to develop part of the West Qurna oil field in the south.
Potential output capacity from West Qurna is put at 600,000 bpd. Iraq estimates the field's reserves at more than 15 bn barrels.
Russia's Mashinoimport also is interested in an agreement for the development of Iraq's North Rumaila field near the border with Kuwait. And Russia's fourth largest oil concern, Sidanko, is a contender to develop the Rafidain field.
Iraq also is negotiating with the Chinese. Iraq signed a deal with the China National Petroleum Corp. last June to develop the billion-barrel Ahdab field in southern Iraq.
Iraqi oil officials say they are seeking bids for 10 more oil projects and have been talking with companies from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Canada, Australia, Italy, South Korea, Turkey, Algeria and Vietnam.
Hmoud said Iraq has so far not entered into direct negotiations with any American or British oil companies.

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