Iraq invites Russia to cooperate in joint energy projects

The Cradle, October 21, 2022 — Despite a $27 billion contract with Total to produce gas, Iraq asked Russia to use its expertise to help lower flaring in its gas fields.

In an interview with Sputnik TV, the director of the technical department in the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, Ali al-Ward, discussed the prospects of Russian investment in the Iraqi oil sector and expressed his country’s approval of the recent OPEC+ decision on oil cuts.

Ward, who was hosted at the Russian-Iraqi business forum, congratulated Russia for its experience in the petrochemicals sector and extraction of natural resources, commending the country for its success in this domain.

He explained that Russia’s knowledge in refinancing petrochemicals would be instrumental to Iraq, which imports gasoline and diesel, despite being one of the richest countries with resources.

Ward added that Russia can play a role in extracting Iraq’s gas resources and tap into the country’s vast reserves that are being wasted in flaring.

“Iraq is an important country in the production of gas and it must be exploited in the petrochemical industry. I advise involving both the private and public sectors in these investments.”

According to a report by Al-Jazeera, the World Bank estimates that Iraq flares approximately 16 billion cubic meters of gas per day, and imports 2 billion to meet its domestic needs.

As a result, for years, the Iraqi ministry of oil vowed to increase its production of gas and cut its reliance on imports, by attracting foreign investments in this sector.

In 2021, France-based energy company, Total, signed several contracts with Iraq worth $27 billion to develop the country’s oil fields, and most importantly, its gas sector.

Total will develop a gas processing hub to capture natural gas from five southern oil fields, as part of the country’s multi-year plan to cut flare gas by 90 percent by 2024.

On 20 October, newly-elected Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani met the Russian ambassador to Iraq, Elbrus Kutrashev, who paid a visit to congratulate him on his new role.

Kutrashev expressed Russia’s interest in developing better ties with Iraq and conveyed the warm greetings of the Russian leadership on the occasion of the end of the political deadlock in the country.

For his part, Sudani vowed that his government will play an instrumental role in strengthening the bilateral ties between Bagdad and Moscow, commending the historical relationship between the two nations.

Prime Minister Sudani was elected for this role on 13 October and has been given 30 days to form a cabinet to be presented at parliament for a vote of confidence.

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