Exxon Plans to Boost Drilling in Iraq's West Qurna

Source: Reuters 9/27/2010, Location: Middle East

ExxonMobil and its partner Royal Dutch Shell plan to more than double the number of new wells in Iraq's West Qurna Phase One to reach its projected production target, an Exxon executive said.

Exxon aims to drill two to three times the current 370 wells in the field as part of its development plan for West Qurna to reach plateau output of 2.325 million barrels per day, said ExxonMobil Iraq Vice President James Adams.

"In order to reach the output target, we need to drill two to three times the number of wells that are already there," Adams told reporters on the sidelines of an industry event.

Asked how many wells the firm will be able to drill this year, he said, "a handful", adding that at this stage the companies are still evaluating the field.

Current production is from 200,000 to 250,000 barrels per day, he said. In July, Adams told Reuters the consortium aimed to raise production by 10 percent by the end of the first quarter of 2011.

The initial development plan agreed by Exxon and its partners for the West Qurna Phase One oilfield includes drilling eight new wells and overhauling up to 50 wells this year, Iraqi oil official said in May.

Adams also said Exxon was taking the lead among international oil companies in managing a multibillion-dollar water injection scheme, which could help raise extraction rates in Iraq's southern oilfields such as West Qurna, Majnoon, Zubair, Rumaila, Gharaf and Halfaya.

"The government made the decision to require that this [water injection project] be done on a communal basis. They invited us to take the lead," he said.

The Exxon-Shell contract to develop the 8.7-billion-barrel West Qurna Phase One project was one of a series that Iraq has signed with international oil companies to develop its vast reserves.

If the projects all turn out as planned, Iraq could quadruple its oil output capacity to Saudi levels of 12 million barrels per day, potentially giving it the billions of cash it needs to rebuild after decades of war, sanctions and neglect.


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