RIL Plans to Invest in Iraqi Oil Sector

The domestic energy giant, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is planning to invest in oil and gas fields of Iraq. Mukesh Ambani announced recently at a programme in Mumbai on Wednesday that, “Petroleum minister Veerappa Moily has asked us to consider investing in Iraq. We are looking at the Nasiriya giant oilfield and three other oil and gas blocks in Middle Furat region.”

This programme was also attended by Iraq’s deputy Prime Minister Hussain Saleh al-Shahristani, who was perplexed as Reliance was only evaluating the possibilities and that no decision has been taken yet. “We are glad that companies like Reliance are taking keen interest in Iraq,” he said. He also added that Iraq is open joint ventures by Indian and Iraqi companies in the oil and gas sector as the Gulf Country seeks to become a petrochemical hub.

“We are keenly looking at Iraq’s resources… we have not yet decided on investing in the Nasiriya giant oil field and the accompanying refinery project but all options are being evaluated. But so far, nothing has been finalized and we will take a call on this- both the downstream and upstream assets- in Iraq by the end of the year.” added Ambani. Iraq has passed Iran to become the second-largest crude oil supplier to India. On his last visit to Iraq, Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily was offered that Indian energy companies are permitted to invest in Iraqi oil and gas acreages.

Kifil, West Kilfil and Merjan oil blocks discovered in the Middle Furat oilfields were made accessible to Indian energy companies on a nomination basis. On nomination basis means that there will be no bidding in between the private energy companies for these oil or gas blocks. This is the first of its kind instance that an oil rich Middle East nation has presented oilfields to India without mandating a formal bidding process. Earlier this year, Reliance was shortlisted by Iraq for developing the Nasiriya oilfield and building an associated 300,000 barrels per day refinery. Last year, the company had divested its holding in two blocks in Kurdistan amid threats of blacklisting by the war-torn country. In 2007, Reliance’s Dubai-based arm, Reliance Exploration and Production had acquired 100 % stake in Rovi and Sarta blocks of Kurdistan. The company sold its entire holding in the two blocks to Chevron. “We have divested all our assets in Kurdistan,” Ambani said.

“We are interested in Iraq’s resources as we are the world over, but we remain India focused as 90% of our energy needs are imported,” RIL Chairperson said. At the annual general meeting he announced that an historic investment of Rs 150,000 crore will be made to enhance the petroleum, gas and refinery businesses of RIL. He envisages the country to become energy import-independent.

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