Iraq’s New Oil Minister to Push Infrastructure

Iraq’s new oil minister, Abdul Kareem Luaibi, put building infrastructure at the top of his priority list and said yesterday he expected the expansion of Basra’s crude export facilities to be finished by the end of 2011, according to a report from Gulf Daily News.

Luaibi, who was sworn into office with Iraq’s new government earlier this week, also said he hoped to start a project soon to build crude oil and gas export pipelines to Syria, a story on which we have recently reported.

A deputy oil minister since March 2009, Luaibi was elevated to oil minister when Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki persuaded his boss, Hussain Al Shahristani, to take the position of deputy prime minister for energy in the new government.

Analysts believe Al Shahristani, will have ultimate control over energy policy, including the vast oilfields Iraq is counting on to rebuild after years of war.

“The priority is to build oil infrastructure. We have major projects like expanding the Basra port to increase its export capacity to 4.5 million barrels per day (bpd), and it’s expected we will finish the rehabilitation work before the end of next year,” he said.

The Syria pipeline project was expected to start at the beginning of the new year after agreement is reached with Syria, he said.

Iraq is also building new crude storage facilities at Nahr Bin Umar, Nassiriya, Tuba and Fao, which Luaibi said would have “utmost priority because they represent essential guarantees to cope with the expected big increase of production”.

(Source: Gulf Daily News)

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