Deadly Fire Cuts Output Of Iraq's Largest Oil Field

LONDON (Dow Jones Newswires), Sep. 20, 2011

A fire at Iraq's largest oil field, Rumaila, killed one worker, injured three others and has reduced oil production, officials from BP, and Iraq's state oil and gas companies said Tuesday.

The fire was ignited by welding operations on a gas compressor neighboring oil production facilities at Rumaila, said an official from Iraq's South Oil Co.

Ali Hussein Khudhier, the head of Iraq's Southern Gas Co., which operates the compressor, confirmed that a fire continues to burn at one of its facilities next to Rumaila.

Emergency teams are expected to put the fire out later Tuesday, at which point the one oil production station forced to shut down on Rumaila could resume working, said the official from South Oil Co.

The gas compressor isn't part of the Rumaila complex and but the field "had to stop feeding gas into that plant," said a BP spokesman.

"That has had an impact on production," he said, without providing specific figures for the reduction.

Rumaila was producing between 1.2 million-1.3 million barrels of oil a day before the incident, the BP spokesman said. This is almost half of Iraq's total oil production.

The compressor supplied natural gas from Rumaila for local consumption in the city of Basra, said the South Oil Co. official.

"We don't believe any of our staff or contractors were involved in the incident," but the BP-led Rumaila Operating Organization is providing help to Southern Gas Co., the BP spokesman said.

The Rumaila Operating Organization is a joint venture between BP, China National Petroleum Corp. and Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization.

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