By Master Sgt. David Bennett, TF Danger Public AffairsJune 12, 2010
BASRA, Iraq - A delegation of British, Dutch, Italian and Japanese diplomats arrived in Basra May 25 to promote international interest in helping Iraq develop its oil industry.
The group, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill, British Ambassador John Jenkins, Dutch Charge D' Affaires Lars Tummers, Italian Ambassador Maurizio Melani, Japanese Charge D' Affaires Katsuhiko Takahashi, and Maj. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of United States Division-South, conducted a walking tour of an oil rig to see first-hand how the international oil industry is applying modern technologies to accelerate efforts to expand production.
Dubbed Weatherford 841, the oil rig is one of the few structures in this dusty, barren part of Basra Province, which boasts the Rumaila Oil Field - the largest in the country.
The field, located 20 miles from the Kuwaiti border, is being developed by British energy conglomerate BP who, in concert with Chinese oil producer and supplier CNPC, will develop the field, which is reported to hold an estimated 17 billion barrels. Ownership of Rumaila remains with Iraq.
The oil here belongs to the Iraqi people and the international community is doing its parts to help ensure that Iraqi citizen benefits from its vast potential.
Rumaila is producing 960,000 barrels per day - nearly half of Iraq's current output. Estimates show the field's production will increase to almost 3 million barrels per day within six years. With only eight wells operating now, experts such as Randal Coffman, operations superintendent for Weatherford 841, venture that once oil production ramps up, its far-reaching resources will push Iraq into the top echelon of oil-producing countries in the world.
The United States and other countries are seeking to leverage the expertise and resources of companies such as Houston-based Weatherford Drilling International.
Weatherford workers were preparing to begin drilling on site within the next couple weeks. The operation was temporarily halted so the ambassadors and other officials could explore the worksite at a safe distance. Officials asked questions ranging from security - currently good - to different drilling heads and parts, which were plenty.
The oil lies some 2,400 meters below, not an extreme depth from what Coffman experienced working around the globe.
"These wells are quite simple for these rigs," said Coffman, referring to the towering oil derrick behind him.
He estimates that once the piping is in place and drilling begins in earnest, it will be only a few weeks before the hole is drilled. Then the rig will be deconstructed and moved to another site.
After a working lunch at the British Consulate General, executives from BP, ENI, Shell, ExxonMobil and prominent Iraqi businessmen discussed issues that pertain to achieving sustained momentum to develop the full potential of Iraq's oil industry for the benefit of Iraq's economy.
After inspecting the drilling heads, Melani said the sizable wealth that rests underground holds much promise for Iraq's future.
"Essentially, with the level of oil profits, this is a good opportunity to develop (Iraq's) economy and invest in other sectors," Melani said.