7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Business News

Iraq crude sector hit hard by ongoing insurgency

MANAMA: Terrorism and instability has brought Iraq's oil industry to a standstill, an official declared in Bahrain yesterday. The result is starvation of investment and technology, the same problem the industry has suffered for 35 years, said Oil Ministry public relations manager Mohammed Ali Mustafa.

"Iraq has been isolated from the rest of the world for all this time, especially since the start of the Iran-Iraq war, but of course, the problem reached its peak following the invasion of Kuwait," he said.

"But terrorism has meant that we are not getting the foreign investment that we desperately need to get back on our feet.

"In all this time, not a single major oil industry-related contract has been awarded and no joint venture projects announced."

Mr Mustafa cited as an example Iraq's biggest oil refinery, in Bayji, having to shut down production for two weeks because of terrorist threats.

"The threats were as a result of Iraq raising oil prices. The terrorists had become used to buying oil very cheaply and then smuggling it out of the country and selling it for hefty margins," he said.

Mr Mustafa was speaking to the GDN on the last day of the fifth Middle East International Refining and Petrochemicals (Middle East Petrotech 2006) exhibition and conference at the Bahrain International Exhibition Centre.

This four-day event was held under the theme Technology for Tomorrow's Generation and attended by over 1,000 industry professionals.

Mr Mustafa said that those opposed to the US's involvement in Iraq were not looking at the situation fairly.

"There is no doubt that the US toppled the former regime for its own interests, but we are in need of foreign expertise and investment as well, so the benefits are reciprocal," he said.

"We also have a fledgling democracy, whereas the previous regime ruled by force. Things take time, but the Iraqi people are better off now."

The exhibition featured over 130 companies from 21 countries. They included key individual technology suppliers and operators such as SABIC, Shell, JGC Corporation, Foster Wheeler and Yokogawa as well as national GCC oil companies.

The Oil Ministry's flagship stand included Bapco, Banagas and GPIC alongside Saudi Aramco, Qatar Petroleum and the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation.

The events were held under the patronage of Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa but were opened on his behalf by Mr Mirza.

The Middle East Petrotech 2006 exhibition is organised by Arabian Exhibition Management of Bahrain in conjunction with London-based Overseas Exhibition Services, both members of Allworld Exhibitions.

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