Iraq may have twice as much oil as previously thought, says minister

Jabar Al-Luaibi said Iraq’s oil reserves may be double their current estimated level. (REUTERS)
Updated 29 March 2018
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Iraq may have twice as much oil as previously thought, says minister

LONDON: Iraq’s oil reserves may be double their current estimated level, according to the country’s oil minister, as OPEC’s second-largest producer invited tenders for the exploration of 11 oil and gas blocks in the country’s south and east.
Jabar Al-Luaibi made the prediction at an energy conference in Baghdad on Wednesday, Reuters reported, with his comments subsequently echoed by Adnan Al-Janabi, head of the Iraqi parliament’s oil and gas commission.
The doubling of the country’s proven reserves would see Iraq overtake Saudi Arabia to contend with Venezuela for the title of the country with the largest proven reserves.
The South American nation says it has just over 300 billion barrels worth of proven reserves, a claim met with skepticism by some market analysts, with much of its reserves consisting of hard-to-access heavy oil in the country’s Orinoco belt.
Iraq last year upgraded its reserve estimates to 153 billion barrels from their previous level of 143 billion.
The oil minister’s statement is more likely to relate to future possible increases in resources, rather than an immediate upgrade to current reserves, said Robin Mills, CEO of UAE-based Qamar Energy.
“I don’t think it has any impact on the short- or medium-term output from Iraq, but it does emphasize the tension between OPEC restraint and Iraq’s plans for production growth,” he said.
The country plans to boost crude production to more than 5 million barrels per day from the current level of 4.35 billion.
However Al-Luaibi insisted that it “definitely will not deviate from the overall decision of OPEC” when it comes to the possible extension of a deal between OPEC and other producers to cut production, due to expire at the end of the year, Reuters reported.
Speaking at the same event, OPEC Secretary-General Moham-med Barkindo told the conference that the bloc was seeking “very long-term” cooperation with non-OPEC producers.
His remarks follow comments earlier this week by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that the Kingdom is in discussions with Russia to forge an unprecedented 10-20 year cooperation agreement, building on the success of 2016’s agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC producers to cut output to support oil prices.
Brent crude futures, which slumped below $30 a barrel in early 2016, have recovered as a result of the production cut agreement, trading at about $70 a barrel this week.
Barkindo told conference delegates in Baghdad that OPEC was evaluating the impact of the deal to determine the “appropriate action” when it expired at the end of this year.
“In addition to the 24 countries that came to sign the declaration of cooperation in November, we have six more producing countries who came to show solidarity,” he said.
Al-Luaibi said that several oil exporters have suggested a six-month extension to the deal, declining to name them.
Barkindo said that investment in the industry was increasing following the recovery in prices, but had yet to reach levels witnessed before prices began falling in late 2014.


New Zealand to conduct own assessment of Huawei equipment risk

Updated 18 February 2019
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New Zealand to conduct own assessment of Huawei equipment risk

  • Huawei faces intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with the Chinese government
  • Several Western countries had restricted Huawei’s access to their markets

WELLINGTON: New Zealand will independently assess the risk of using China’s Huawei Technologies in 5G networks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday after a report suggested that British precautions could be used by other nations.
Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, faces intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with the Chinese government and US-led allegations that its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying.
No evidence has been produced publicly and the firm has repeatedly denied the allegations, which have led several Western countries to restrict Huawei’s access to their markets.
The Financial Times reported on Sunday that the British government had decided it can mitigate the risks arising from the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks. It said Britain’s conclusion would “carry great weight” with European leaders and other nations could use similar precautions.
New Zealand’s intelligence agency in November rejected an initial request from telecommunications services provider Spark to use 5G equipment provided by Huawei.
At the time, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) gave Spark options to mitigate national security concerns over the use of Huawei equipment, Ardern said on Monday.
“The ball is now in their court,” she told a weekly news conference.
Ardern said New Zealand, which is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network that includes the United Kingdom and the United States, would conduct its own assessment.
“I would expect the GCSB to apply with our legislation and our own security assessments. It is fair to say Five Eyes, of course, share information but we make our own independent decisions,” she said.
Huawei New Zealand did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Spark said it was in discussions with GCSB officials.
“We are working through what possible mitigations we might be able to provide to address the concerns raised by the GCSB and have not yet made any decision on whether or when we should submit a revised proposal to GCSB,” Spark spokesman Andrew Pirie said in an emailed statement.
The Huawei decision, along with the government’s tougher stance on China’s growing influence in the Pacific, has some politicians and foreign policy analysts worried about potential strained ties with a key trading partner.
Ardern’s planned first visit to Beijing has faced scheduling issues, and China last week postponed a major tourism campaign in New Zealand days before its launch.
Ardern said her government’s relationship with China was strong despite some complex issues.
“Visits are not a measure of the health of a relationship they are only one small part of it,” she said, adding that trade and tourism ties remained strong.