Perhaps the most positive news out of Iraq in the past week came late on Wednesday, as the Canadian-based explorer ShaMaran Petroleum announced a major oil discovery at its Atrush-1 well in Kurdistan. ShaMaran has an 80% stake in the project, with Marathon Oil Corp holding the remaining 20%.
The news comes as Baghdad and Erbil make further progress on the management of the country’s oil and gas resources. Revenues from Iraq’s energy sector have enabled the country to spend $400m on the renovation of one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces in the capital, which will be used to host the Arab League Summit in May.
Sadly, for foreign visitors who are not heads of state, problems with visas persist. The Basra Investment Commission now reserves the right to attend job interviews as an observer, and we are hearing reports that entry visa holders are now being required to pay an additional $82 fee at the airport.
If the Iraqi authorities want to see more discoveries like yesterday’s find at Atrush-1, they must not put obstacles in the way of foreign expertise trying to enter the country.