“Maybe soon we will hit four million barrels a day – we are not far from it. This means we need more infrastructure, especially storage – that’s storage in the fields and at the ports, and also more pipelines,” he added.
Dr Mahdi said gas was also a big issue. Iraq was losing billions of dollars because gas was not being harnessed and this was “not acceptable.”
Shell Iraq is now working to help develop Iraq’s fledgling gas industry and has recently opened the Basrah Gas Company.
Shell Iraq’s Country Chairman, Hans Nijkamp, said the government must continue to make more effort to expand and develop gas production. Tapping into natural gas would help modulate demand and in time Iraq could begin to export the product as far afield as Europe.
Mr Nijamp continued, saying the potential for both the gas and oil industries in Iraq was still “as big as ever.” There were a “few glitches” at the moment, not least the low oil price, but this was a reality they all had to come to terms with.
The Deputy Country Manager of BP, Zaid Elyaseri, told the conference that the company’s Rumaila field in Iraq had already generated $30 billion for the government and was currently adding $20 million a day to the Iraqi exchequer.
Mr Elyaseri said that BP had committed to a long term relationship to both the government and the country itself. The company wanted to ensure Iraq “gets where it wants to be.”
The UK’s Ambassador to Iraq, Frank Baker OBE, said Britain looked on Iraq as the cultural and financial centre for the region, with the potential to become the economic force in the Middle East, and all that after three decades of conflict, sanctions and lack of investment.
Mr Baker said Iraq now had its most inclusive Government in decades, with politicians on all sides working together.
“We in the UK stand ready to help – helping on the security front, with the humanitarian crisis, and also helping with economic reform and we are well placed to do so, having taken some tight decisions to put our own economy back on track.”
Delegates to the conference were welcomed by the Executive Chairman of the IBBC, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne.
She said partnership must be the most powerful message to come out of the conference.