An Iraqi oil industry veteran, Dr Thamir Al Uqaili, has stated that there is a general belief that the production plateau targets (PPTs) of the independent oil companies who have won contracts in Iraq are too ambitious and that export will face a marketing problem.
Maintaining field pressure and boosting production is a key area for the IOCs to solve as they get started, says Dr Al Uqaili, “The fields are multi-reservoir fields of different characters. The IOCs are evaluating the characteristics and requirements of each reservoir. The evaluation includes revising recoverable oil under water injection and may be other solutions, to be able not only to achieve the production plateau target but to maintain it for some seven years."
According to Dr Al Uqaili there are also several production or export facilities that will need upgrading and expanding to ensure that Iraq can export its output.
“A new production centre like Hlafaya-Nahr-Umer-Majnoon down to the Fao sea terminal and removing the bottlenecks in the pipelines from Rumaila and Zubair depots to the Fao terminal”, he continues, “as well as sea lines from Fao to the Basra sea terminal and installations of single buoy moorings (SBMs) in the Basra sea terminal”.
He also believes that the current bottleneck in the Iraq-Turkey export pipeline must be removed and perhaps a third line constructed. Furthermore, should Iraq reach an agreement with Saudi Arabia, the Iraq Petroleum Saudi Arabia (IPSA) pipeline should be put into service. He continues, “There is the possibility of constructing a pipeline each to Kuwait and Jordan. Furthermore, we can resolve the current stalemate of the oil export from Kurdistan by using Iraq’s transport transportation system.”
Safety and security
Domestic security as ever is still an issue, which is holding back positive growth. “The main worries are security and political stability”, says Dr Al Uqaili, “that may severely affect fulfillment of a reliable national integrated plan that includes other sectors beside the oil sector. This integrated plan has not been started yet.”
The American withdrawal has now been penciled in for next year, but even senior Iraqi army officers have expressed doubts about the capability of the national army to maintain the peace. The political stalemate that has resulted from inconclusive election has also still not been resolved, and it could become a very divisive issue if it is not resolved soon.