BP "in Talks" to Boost Output at Kirkuk Field

Oil giant BP is reported to be in talks with Iraq to boost output from the Kirkuk oilfield in the north of the country.

Bloomberg, citing sources at the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES), says BP officials will meet with Iraq’s North Oil Company (NOC) within weeks to discuss increasing capacity at Kirkuk from about 260,000 barrels per day (bpd) to as much as 700,000 bpd over the next five years.

Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Al- Luaibi [Elaibi], met with BP executives in London on 22nd February after the company expressed an interest in the field.

"We envisage BP doing something similar to Rumaila at Kirkuk," said an Iraqi oil executive. He was referring to a $30 billion BP-operated project to develop Iraq's biggest oilfield, located in southern Iraq.

Reuters reports that production at the 77-year old field had been as high as 900,000 bpd in 2001 after years of injecting water and dumping unwanted crude and products into the field.

But the UK oil major downplayed the possibility of taking on a mega-project at Kirkuk.

"We are not aware of any proposals for the development of Kirkuk or any other fields," a BP spokesman told Reuters. "We would of course consider opportunities for further investment in Iraq as we would opportunities elsewhere in the world."

The problems at Kirkuk forced the NOC to issue a tender late last year to rehabilitate the ageing field, but industry sources say the process went nowhere.

Iraq put Kirkuk on the block in its first postwar oil auction in 2009. A consortium led by Royal Dutch Shell offered to boost flows to 825,000 b/d for a fee of $7.89 a barrel, but Baghdad insisted on payment of $2 a barrel.

(Sources: Reuters, Bloomberg)

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