Gazprom to Drill New Wells in Badrah

A group led by Gazprom Neft aims to start drilling in Iraq's Badrah oilfield next year as part of its plan to reach 15,000 barrels per day by the last quarter of 2013, a company executive said yesterday.

Gazprom and its partners plan to issue a tender this month to drill three to four new wells and could award a contract later in the year, said Alexander V Kolomatsky, project director Middle East at Gazprom Neft, the oil unit of Russia's Gazprom, according to a report from Reuters.

"We will call for several tenders for 3D seismic I think within a week, then for drilling... we will issue (drilling) tenders during this month," he told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference between international oil companies and the Oil Ministry in Baghdad.

In January, Iraq signed a deal with Gazprom, Turkey's TPAO, Korea's Kogas and Malaysia's Petronas to develop its eastern Badrah oilfield, which has estimated reserves of 100 million barrels of oil. The field is near Iraq's border with Iran.

Kolomatsky said initial expectations of total investment in Badrah were about $2 billion. The company was also in the "final stage" of negotiations with Iran to develop the Azar oilfield, a part of Iraq's Badrah field which lies across the border, he said.

"I think talks are going well... but it's difficult with sanctions," he said. The Russian company last year signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC) to study the development of Azar and Shanguletwo oilfields in Iran.

Iran, a major oil exporter and holder of the world's second-largest gas reserves, has been hit by a new wave of international sanctions for its nuclear program and the United States has also stepped up its push to isolate Tehran economically.

Kolomatsky also said the Russian firm is looking for other opportunities to increase its activities in Iraq and could be interested in bidding for exploration and production rights in areas like the unexplored Western Desert along the border with Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

(Source: Reuters)

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