Chinese Firm Opens Iraq’s First Oil Field in 20 Years

Posted June 28th, 2011 at 1:45 am (UTC-5)
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China's largest state oil company says it has begun operations at an oil field in Iraq, marking the first new oil project to get under way in that country in more than 20 years.

The China National Petroleum Corporation said on its website that it began pumping oil last week at the Al-Ahdab field 180 kilometers southeast of Baghdad. The project is expected to produce 25,000 barrels of oil per day for the next three years, and 115,000 barrels a day for six years after that.

China originally signed the deal in 1996 with then Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, but implementation was delayed by international sanctions and the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The deal was renegotiated in November 2008 on terms under which Iraq retains ownership and pays the Chinese company a fee for services on every barrel pumped.

CNPC said the start of operations at Al-Ahdab marks “the realization of the Chinese oil industry's goal to develop the high-end oil market in the Middle East.”