Iraq to Develop Kifl Oil Field in the South

Hassan Hafidh

AMMAN Oct 9, 2006 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani has said his ministry plans to develop the Kifl oil field in southern Iraq with a capacity of 40,000 barrels a day.

He also said Iraq would need a new oil and gas law before contracts could be signed with foreign companies to develop oil fields.

Al-Shahristani said that crude oil from the field, whose proven oil reserves are estimated at 150 million barrels, would help supply crude oil to nearby small refineries in Samawa and Najaf provinces. Each refinery has a production capacity of 10,000 b/d, which could be increased gradually to 20,000 b/d, respectively.

Al-Shahristani was speaking at Saturday's inauguration ceremony of the oil refinery in the Shiite holy city of Najaf. The Samawa refinery was inaugurated last year.

However, the minister didn't say when exactly the ministry was planning to develop the field located between Hilla province and Samawa province in southern Iraq.

Iraq would need to sign a contract with a foreign company to develop the field, Iraqi oil officials said.

During Saddam Hussein's rule, Iraq signed a memorandum of understanding with Tunisia's national oil company, ETAP, to carry out a study of the Kifl oil field. Also a former Canadian company called Ranger carried out a study about the field, the oil officials said.

Earlier this month, al-Shahristani said the giant al-Ahdab oil field in southern Iraq and east of Baghdad would top his ministry's list of oil fields planned for development.

But Iraq would need a new oil and gas law before signing contracts with foreign companies to develop oil fields.

According to al-Shahristani, the law is expected to be enacted by the end of this year.