New Delhi: India will seek oilfields from Iraq in lieu of helping the war-ravaged nation rebuild its refineries when Iraqi oil minister Hussein Al-Shahristani comes here on a four-day visit this week.
New Delhi is keen on starting work on onshore Block VIII, that was awarded to ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas arm of Oil and Natural Gas Corp., by the deposed Saddam Hussein regime.
It also wants the Iraqi government to honour award of the Tuba oilfield to a consortium of OVL, Reliance Industries Ltd and Sonatrach of Algeria. The consortium had been shortlisted by the Saddam Hussein regime before the US invasion of Iraq.
“They want our help in building refineries,” petroleum minister Murli Deora said. “When I met Al-Shahristani in Riyadh earlier this month, he wanted Indian firms to build an 8-10 million tonne refinery (in the war-torn country).”
Iraq has proven oil reserves of 112 billion barrels, second only to the world’s top oil producer, Saudi Arabia. Although Iraq has a capacity to process 630,000 barrels of crude a day, it currently produces 477,000 barrels of refined products a day, while consumption is 544,000 barrels a day. “Oilfields, refineries and other energy projects will be discussed during the meeting,” he said.
Indian Oil Corp. and Engineers India Ltd could also be involved in revamping Iraq’s old refineries and building pipelines. Iraq is expected to enact an oil law by May-end that would allow its various regions to negotiate oilfield contracts with foreign investors.
Iraq has eight refineries, none of which were damaged during the US-led invasion in 2003, but they are operating at only 50-75% of their capacity.