Iraq has signed its first major oil deal with a foreign company since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime—a 20-year, $3 billion contract with the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to develop fields in southern Wasit province. The deal marks the first time in more than 35 years that Iraq has allowed a foreign oil company to do business within its borders. Iraq’s cabinet must still approve the contract, but Oil Ministry spokesman Assim Jihad said that would happen soon and work could commence within a few months.
The Chinese company will provide technical advisers, workers and equipment to develop al-Ahdab oil field, providing fuel for al-Zubaidiya power plant in Wasit, southeast of Baghdad, bordering Iran. Once development begins, the field is expected to produce a preliminary 25,000 barrels a day, reaching a projected 125,000 barrels after three years. Iraq’s oil fields currently produce about 2.5 million barrels a day, 2 million of which are exported daily. That is close to its status before the US-led war that toppled Saddam in 2003, but below its levels prior to the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Iraq has an estimated 115 billion barrels of oil reserves, ranking it third after Saudi Arabi and Iran. (CNN, Press TV, Iran, Aug. 30)
So much for the dreams of the neocons.