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BP Quits Iraq’s Kirkuk Oilfield As Studies Disappoint

UK-based supemajor BP has withdrawn from the Kirkuk oilfield in northern Iraq after its field study contract expired, and no deal was signed for a potential expansion, likely because of discouraging study results, Reuters reported on Tuesday, quoting sources familiar with the issue and a senior source at the Iraqi company overseeing the operations.

BP had a contract to study the development potential of the Kirkuk oilfield which expired in December 2019.

BP’s presence in Iraq actually began in Kirkuk in the 1920s when the company that is now known as BP helped Iraq to locate, produce, and export oil from Baba Gurgur, which was the largest oil field in the world at the time.

BP provided technical assistance to Iraqi state-held North Oil Company to help it with the redevelopment of the Kirkuk field. Kirkuk is estimated to hold some 9 billion barrels of recoverable oil remaining, according to BP.

But after the contract expired at the end of last year, BP told Iraq that it was withdrawing its staff from the Kirkuk oilfield, Reuters’ sources said.

“It’s very obvious study results were not encouraging for BP to extend its operations,” a senior source at the North Oil Company told Reuters, adding that the study results were underwhelming for the Iraqi company, too.  

BP told Reuters that it had completed its service contract and delivered its recommendations to the Iraq company, declining to comment on personnel movements.

The pullout would be another blow to Iraq’s plans to increase production capacity and come as major oil corporations, such as Chevron, are pulling American staff out of Iraq amid the heightened tension between the United States and Iran in Iraq, and continued protests in OPEC’s second-largest producers.

Just this weekend, escalating protests in Iraq led to a halt in production at the Al Ahdab oil field, which pumps some 70,000 bpd, while another field was at risk of shutting down as well.    

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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