Ahead of the 11th edition of the Iraq Petroleum Conference in May, the CWC Group Director Nawar Abdulhadi interviews one of the key speakers of this year’s event, Mr Shawki Al-Khalisi, Head of Studies, Arab Petroleum Training Institute, OAPEC, Ministry of Oil, Federal Government of Iraq.
Mr Al-Khalisi shares with us his views on the current state of the Iraqi oil and gas industry, the challenges, innovations and the outlook for the industry’s future:
Nawar Abdulhadi: Why is Iraq such an important market for the global oil and gas industry?
Shawki Al-Khalisi: Iraq is number five, globally, in conventional petroleum reserves and could rank even higher if the untapped areas are fully explored. Moreover average production cost in Iraq is one of the lowest, if not the lowest, in the world. The vast potential and the low production cost place Iraq among the most attractive areas for IOCs.
Nawar Abdulhadi: How does the Government of Iraq and the oil and gas industry work together to drive innovation?
Shawki Al-Khalisi: Iraq has embarked on an ambitious plan to raise its production capacity by signing service contracts with several, well-experienced IOCs to revive and enhance productions in a number of operating fields that were showing clear decline. The measures required to achieve this goal depend on the nature and history of each individual field which constitute a diversity of challenges. These challenges require concerted efforts by the joint Iraqi- IOCs management and call for, in some unique cases, coming up with novel ideas and new techniques that eventually lead to driving innovation in the industry.
Nawar Abdulhadi: As a refinery expert, what do you consider to be Iraq’s downstream challenges? And what could be the solutions?
Shawki Al-Khalisi: Iraq’s downstream sector has gone through dire circumstances in the previous decades and it badly needs reconstruction, modernizing and capacity building. The challenges are basically the lack of funds allocated by the central government due to budget constraints and the halfhearted resolve to address the problem. All efforts to lure investors to invest in the sector have been, with few exceptions, futile.