Shell to Start Drilling at Iraq Majnoon Oil Field in July

BASRA (Dow Jones Newswires), March 31, 2011

Shell along with its partners, Malaysia's Petronas and the Iraqi state Missan Oil Co., will start drilling the first new well in the super-giant Majnoon oil field in July, a company executive said Thursday.

"Shell is targeting July 2011 to spud the first well," Ole Myklestad, managing director of Shell in Iraq told reporters in Basra.

Between 15 and 20 wells will be drilled in Majnoon oil field in southern Iraq and some 27 others will be refurbished to bring output to 175,000 barrels a day by the end of next year from the current 60,000 barrels a day, Myklestad said. The new wells and the refurbish work is part of an early production plan.

The well drilling is part of a contract Shell and its partners signed with U.S. service giant Halliburton and the state-run Iraqi Drilling Co. last year.

The executive also said that Shell has opened a new office in Basra to manage its projects in Iraq. The office is to make sure that "we have the human resources and all the supports required by an international company in Basra."

Myklestad said that there are some 300 Iraqis working on the Majnoon project and they are from the state-run South Oil Co. Some 50 Shell expatriate personnel are also working on the project, he said.

Shell and Petronas won the right to develop Majnoon oil field, located in Basra governorate in southern Iraq, at an auction held in Baghdad December 2009. Shells owns 45% of the venture and Petronas 30%, with Iraq's Missan Oil Co. the remaining 25%.

Shell also will start constructing a 75 kilometer pipeline to connect Majnoon with the crude oil depots in Faw, as a stop before shipping the crude into vessels in the Gulf. Myklestad said that Shell and its partner would provide the finance for building the pipeline.

The Anglo-Dutch giant is also planning to commence a seismic survey but after clearing mines left from the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war.

"We want to get results of a seismic survey in the next two years," he said.

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