In a move that has created the first foreign oil development deal in Iraq since the 2003 fall of former leader Saddam Hussein, Chinese engineers inaugurated an Iraqi oil field yesterday following a $3 Billion contract that was signed late in 2008. The move is actually late in coming, as it follows a 1997 deal that had granted the Chinese exploration rights to the central Iraq Al-Ahdab oil field. Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani noted that, “This project will provide a number of jobs and opportunities for investment. It will provide the province with electricity and power to operate the power station in Zurbadiyah and to help contribute to development and prosperity.”
Word is that the oil production in the oil field is slated to reach 25,000 barrels per day for a period of three years and then to expand to as much as 115,000 barrels each day at the end of six years. Abd al-Latif Hamad Tarfah, the provincial governor in the area where the oil field is located, noted “We look at this opportunity as the start of rebuilding the prosperity of Wasit.”
The deal, initially inked in 1997 and valued at nearly $700 Million over 23 years, was suspended almost immediately due to UN sanctions and then was forced to remain on hold after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 due to security concerns. That the oil field is going online is a strong indication that those concerns have been quelled to an extent that make the field safe to operate, and is a further indication of success in a country that has long been torn by violence after U.S. troops seemingly secured the country but were then faced with guerilla warfare tactics that, ironically, challenged their own modern warfare tactics.