It is not accidental that visit of the Russian diplomatic mission to Iraq is so hasty, as the situation seems to have radically changed. As Reuters informs, on January 17 the authorities of Iraq concluded contracts with Russian companies for development of one of the oil fields.
One of the contracts was concluded with Soyuzneftegas for development of the Rafidein oil field in southern Iraq. The second contract was concluded with the Stroitransgas company on development of the Block-4 oil field in Iraq’s western desert. The third contract concerns further projects that Russian companies plan to carry out in Iraq. At that, Iraq’s Deputy Minister of Oil Salman al-Hadisi stressed that the Stroitransgas company had bound itself to “realization of the contract during the embargo is in force.”
Hadisi says that the Block-4 oil field is one of Iraq’s largest and as important as the West Kurna field.
It is pleasant that potential rivals of the Russian companies were not ready to this turn of the situation. When Russia’s LUKOIL was expelled from the West Kurna oil field, French company Totalfinaelf expected to get rights for development of Iraq’s fields to the sum of approximately 3.4 billion dollars. But no contracts were concluded with this company.
What is more, as NEWS.ru informs, an official press-release of the LUKOIL-Overseas company says that negotiations of the Russian delegation with Iraq’s Vice-president Taha Yassin concerning development of the West Kurna oil field resulted in an agreement on lifting of mutual claims. As Agence France Presse informs, LUKOIL leadership confirms the fact that the oil company regained the contracts for development of the West Kurna-2 oil field in Iraq. Besides, it was decided that a session of the project’s executive committee, the United Managing Committee, would be held not later than in middle of February. The session will be dedicated to work on the project for 2003.
Russia’s First Deputy Minister of Energy Ivan Matlashov says that besides the oil contracts, the Russian delegation and the Iraqi side discussed reconstruction and building of electric power plants, supplies of equipment and spare parts. He said that Russia and Iraq concluded contracts to the sum of over 1 billion dollars in this sphere.
As experts say, the recent actions of the Iraqi leadership demonstrate that Russia has much more prospects of success after a short delay in the bilateral relations. The Iraqi authorities are not only still ready for cooperation with the Russian companies, they demonstrate that they are ready to be more hospitable. To what extent are they going to be hospitable? What is the US’s opinion about it?
Ahtyam Ahtyrov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://economics.pravda.ru/economics/2003/7/21/64/5713_LukoilIraq.html