Shell restarts Iraq's Majnoon oil field

Updated 02 October 2013
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Shell restarts Iraq's Majnoon oil field

BASRA: Royal Dutch Shell has restarted production at Iraq's Majnoon oil field, one of four giant fields core to the country's plans to boost output and avoid a slowdown in exports this year.
The Anglo-Dutch major, in charge of operations at the southern Majnoon oil field, said on Friday it aims to boost output to 175,000 barrels per day (bpd) in October.
"We can confirm that we successfully opened the wells and restarted production in Majnoon," a Shell spokesman said. "We are targeting production of 175,000 bpd in the next weeks."
Baghdad sent a letter of complaint to Shell last month for missing start-up dates at the 12-billion-barrel oil field, which was pumping about 45,000 bpd when the company took over in 2010. Shell later suspended operations to carry out maintenance.
An official from Iraq's South Oil Company, which oversees the running of the country's southern oilfields, had a more ambitious target for Majnoon.
"The test restart of the oilfield will continue until the end of September and production of around 190,000 barrels per day is expected to be reached in October," he said.
OPEC's second-biggest producer expects its output to rise by 400,000 bpd by the end of this year, with Majnoon - which straddles the border with Iran - providing a big part of that.
Shell has built a strong position in southern Iraq as operator of Majnoon, junior partner with ExxonMobil at West Qurna-1 and a partner in a natural gas project.
Baghdad's oil revival, which got under way in 2010, has slowed this year due to infrastructure and security problems, keeping output far below projected targets and sometimes even below last year's levels of 3 million bpd.
Iraq signed a series of service contracts with major oil companies such as Shell, BP, Exxon and Total at the end of 2009 to develop its oilfields, neglected for decades due to wars and sanctions.
The development of the neighboring Rumaila, Zubair and West Qurna-1 oil fields has already added 600,000 bpd.
Garraf oil field in the south, developed by Malaysia's Petronas and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co Ltd., started production of 35,000 bpd earlier this month.
Petronas also has a minority interest in Majnoon. Under the terms of the service contract, Shell vowed to raise production from Majnoon to 1.8 million bpd by 2017 for a fee of $1.39 a barrel. It has been negotiating with Baghdad to reduce the target to around 1 million bpd.


Global carmakers show off SUVs, electrics as China promises reforms

Updated 23 min 40 sec ago
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Global carmakers show off SUVs, electrics as China promises reforms

BEIJING: Global carmakers touted their latest electric and SUV models in Beijing on Wednesday, as China promises a more level playing field in the world’s largest auto market where domestic vehicles are making major inroads.
Industry behemoths like Volkswagen, Daimler, Toyota, Nissan, Ford and others are displaying more than 1,000 models and dozens of concept cars at the Beijing auto show.
Thousands of Chinese auto enthusiasts are expected to wander the halls of the mega exhibition center this week, with electric cars and gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles grabbing the spotlight.
Nissan presented its first Made in China electric car produced for Chinese consumers, the four-door Sylphy Zero Emission, with a drive range of 338 kilometers.
“The new Sylphy Zero Emission is the next step in our electrification strategy for China,” said Jose Munoz, Nissan’s chief performance officer, adding that the company will unveil 20 electrified models over the next five years.
Auto executives may have their minds on the boiling trade war between Beijing and Washington, with every twist and turn fanning fears that it could bring their plans for China to a screeching halt.
But last week Beijing announced it will liberalize foreign ownership limits in the sector, a move seen as a possible olive branch to President Donald Trump, who has railed against China’s policies in the sector.
China currently restricts foreign auto firms to a maximum 50 percent ownership of joint ventures with local companies.
The changes will end shareholding limits for new energy vehicle firms as soon as this year, followed by commercial vehicles in 2020 and passenger cars in 2022.
Foreign automakers who account for more than half of vehicle sales in China have cautiously welcomed the changes, with VW saying it has “strong” local partners in their joint ventures.
“This will have no impact on our JVs. But the overreaching principle is important. Hopefully, liberalization will as well help for fair competition, and having a level playing field,” Jochem Heizmann, CEO of Volkswagen Group China, told reporters.
The show comes as China’s market hits a transition period — the explosive growth in car sales seen over the last decade slowed last year and data from early this year point to a continued slump for many vehicle types.
Chinese consumers are following their American peers toward SUVs while policymakers in Beijing push an all-electric future.
Ride-sharing is also on the up. On Tuesday Didi — China’s answer to Uber — announced it had joined forces with some 30 partners, including Renault and Volkswagen, to develop vehicles and products specifically tailored for ride-sharing.
Accounting for some 28.9 million car sales last year, the Chinese market could soon match those of the European Union and United States combined.
General Motors sold over four million cars here last year, more than in the US. Volkswagen sold more than three million, roughly six times its home market.
But domestic firms are outselling foreign firms in the SUV segment.
In the electric car market the figures are even more lopsided, as Beijing has heaped money on projects to dominate what it sees as the future.
At the auto show, the domestic upstarts have a separate exhibition hall mostly to themselves — 124 of the 174 electric car models on display are homegrown.
Government subsidies help consumers purchase the green cars, while policymakers are planning a quota system to force producers to build electric vehicles, with plans to one day phase out gas vehicles altogether.
Volkswagen announced Tuesday investments of €15 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles in China by 2022.
“China is our second home,” recently installed chief executive Herbert Diess said at a Beijing press conference, with its market set to be “the biggest” worldwide for electric cars.