The last three years have been “exceptional” for the Kurdistan Region in terms of discoveries of both oil and gas, Dr Ashti Hawrami, the Minister of Natural Resources, told an audience of diplomats and international oil companies in Erbil today.
Dr Hawrami said that as a result of drilling activities from 2008 to 2010, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Natural Resources was constantly updating and reviewing the Region’s resource base estimates.
“We see our Region sitting on at least 45 billion barrels of oil and as much as 100-200 trillion cubic feet of gas and we expect that soon some of our reserve estimates will be included in that of Iraq’s overall reserves,” he said.
Speaking at the launch of The Oil & Gas Year Kurdistan Region of Iraq 2011, a book that focuses on the Region’s energy sector, Dr Hawrami also said production levels were steadily increasing and that exports of crude oil from the Region had already reached around 100,000 barrels per day.
“That figure will continue to rise throughout the year and we are very much on track to reach exports of 1 million barrels a day by 2015,” Dr Hawrami said. He added that he was pleased with the technical cooperation shown by the state-owned Northern Oil Company, which is responsible for the management of Iraq’s Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline.
Dr Hawrami said gas discovered in the Kurdistan Region would first help to solve Iraq’s chronic electricity shortages and then provide an important source of revenue for the federal government through exports to Turkey, to Europe and beyond.
“New gas discoveries to date total 20 trillion cubic feet,” he announced. “This is in addition to the previously discovered Khor Mor and Chamchamal fields which according to Iraqi estimates contain 4-5 trillion cubic feet and which remain a priority dedicated to serve the domestic market for current and future power generation.”
Dr Hawrami outlined the MNR’s support for plans to boost power-generation in the Region with the construction of three gas-fired power plants in the provinces of Dohuk, Erbil and Suleimaniah.
Dr Hawrami said the KRG was planning to develop 5000MW of electricity, in addition to the current domestic plan of 2000 MW. “This is for supply to both the KRG governorates and to our neighbouring provinces of Ninevah, Kirkuk and Salahadin,” he said.
Dr Hawrami said he was optimistic that the outstanding issues between Erbil and Baghdad would soon be solved. He said that he expected the federal parliament to pass a hydrocarbons law and a companion revenue-sharing law in the coming months.
“Iraq needs these laws. The region needs these laws,” he said. “They have already been delayed too long. We need to take the ideology out of oil policy and focus on getting results. After all, we are all working to the same end, which is to make our oil and gas work for all the people of Iraq, without exception.”
Picture: Prime Minister Barham Salih (standing) and Minister Ashti Hawrami (second from right).