Iraq drilling firm to drill 180 wells in 2010
By Aref Mohammed
BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) – The state-run Iraq Drilling Company plans to drill 180 oil wells in 2010, and will be able to drill more than 250 new wells every year from 2011 onwards, the head of the company said.
Thirty of the new wells planned for 2010 will be in northern oilfields and 150 in the south, adding roughly 360,000 barrels of oil per day to Iraq’s output capacity, Iraqi Drilling Company director Idrees al-Yassiri told Reuters in an interview. The number of new wells next year will exceed the total number drilled in the 6-1/2 years since the U.S. invasion, he said on Thursday.
“The approximate production that each well will add is 2,000 barrels per day, that is, they will together add 360,000 barrels per day and this will means additional revenue of billions of dollars for Iraq,” Yassiri said.
“In 2011 the production capacity of the Iraq Drilling Company will exceed 250 wells annually.” He added the company would have 40 drilling towers compared to the 18 it had when Saddam Hussein was in charge. Half of the towers had already been put to work and the rest would follow in 2010.
Iraq currently produces around 2.5 million bpd, and has struggled to ramp up production because its oil infrastructure has been left in a state of decay after decades of war, sanctions and underinvestment.
BIG CHANGE AHEAD
That may soon change. The country is in the process of signing multibillion-dollar deals with global oil majors that will nearly triple crude output to 7 million bpd and transform it into the third-largest crude producer in the world.
The first agreement finalized is for BP and China’s CNPC to develop Rumaila, Iraq’s largest oilfield. It was the only contract successfully bid on at Iraq’s first tender of oilfield deals in June.
Subsequent negotiations have led to initial agreements for an Eni-led group to develop Zubair and an Exxon Mobil-led group to take on West Qurna Phase One.
A second auction of oilfield contracts for 10 largely undeveloped fields will take place December 11-12. The drilling program spoken of by Yassiri appeared to be separate to those deals. He did not elaborate.
Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has said Iraq will not sit by idly, leaving all the work to foreign firms, but would push on with its own plans to boost output.
Yassiri said the Iraq Drilling Company had drilled 22 new wells in an oilfield bordering Kuwait, aimed at preventing “leakage” across the border. It had also drilled one new well on the Iranian border and rehabilitated another. Iraq is in talks with both Kuwait and Iran over shared oilfields.
(Writing by Deepa Babington and Michael Christie; Editing by James Jukwey)
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