Iraq close to signing $53bn deal with Exxon, PetroChina; denies Iran link

Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said that he has instructed Iraq’s Oil Ministry to finalize an agreement with global energy giants ExxonMobil and PetroChina to lead a $53 billion megaproject to boost oil production. (File/AP)
Updated 07 May 2019

Iraq close to signing $53bn deal with Exxon, PetroChina; denies Iran link

  • Iraq will partner with the companies to pump desalinated seawater into subterranean oil formations to raise well pressures and boost production
  • Iraq is producing oil at record levels, but officials are targeting higher output to meet federal budget projections and finance the country’s reconstruction

BAGHDAD: Iraq is close to signing a $53 billion, 30-year energy agreement with Exxon Mobil and PetroChina, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday, denying any link between the mega-project and US permission for Iraq to do business with Iran.
Iraq expects to make $400 billion over the 30 years the deal will be in effect, the prime minister said.
The southern mega-project involves the development of the Nahr Bin Umar and Artawi oilfields and raising production from the two fields to 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) from around 125,000 bpd now, Abdul Mahdi said.
The project is crucial to supplying water to oilfields in the south in order to boost pressure and keep production steady.
Media reports had quoted Iran’s ambassador in London on Monday saying the United States would grant waivers to Iraq allowing it to deal with Iran economically, in exchange for Baghdad signing an oil deal with Washington.
“Talks now between the oil ministry and Exxon Mobil and PetroChina are focused on how to split profits if oil prices rise or decline,” Abdul Mahdi said in response to a Reuters question on the obstacles holding up a final agreement.
“The deal lasts for 30 years and such financial details are sensitive and should be given more discussions,” he added.
Iraq is the second largest oil exporter in OPEC and has long-term aims to boost output curtailed by decades of war and sanctions. Such projects are among the most valuable prizes in the world for international oil companies. An initial agreement would be a big boost for Exxon Mobil’s plans to expand in Iraq.
It is also one of the only countries in the world to have friendly relations with both the United States and Iran. Tehran and Washington, arch enemies elsewhere, are Baghdad’s main allies and vye for influence there.
Exxon Mobil and PetroChina will build a water injection project to feed oil wells in the south, as well as rehabilitate and build new export pipelines, Abdul Mahdi said.
The project also aims to process 100 million standard cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Artawi and Nahr Bin Umar fields.
US President Donald Trump pulled out last year from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, and reinstated sanctions against Tehran. Washington has told buyers of Iranian oil to stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions.
Iraq does not import oil and has a waiver from the United States allowing it to import Iranian natural gas.
“The US sanctions are against countries that buy Iranian oil only, and Iraq doesn’t buy any Iranian crude. For gas, as far as I know (waivers ending) won’t affect (gas imports) right now. The waiver for gas still stands,” an Iraqi oil official told Reuters on Monday.


Electric luxury vehicles, SUVs ‘more likely to cause accidents’

Updated 23 August 2019

Electric luxury vehicles, SUVs ‘more likely to cause accidents’

  • As EV sales rise, French insurer AXA warns that drivers are struggling to adapt to cars’ rapid acceleration

LONDON: Electric luxury cars and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) may be 40 percent more likely to cause accidents than their standard engine counterparts, possibly because drivers are still getting used to their quick acceleration, French insurer AXA said.

The numbers, based on initial trends from claims data and not statistically significant, also suggest small and micro electric cars are slightly less likely to cause accidents than their combustion engine counterparts, AXA said at a crash test demonstration on Thursday.

AXA regularly carries out crash tests for vehicles. This year’s tests, which took place at a disused airport, focused on electric cars.

Overall accident rates for electric vehicles are about the same as for regular cars, according to liability insurance claims data for “7,000 year risks” — on 1,000 autos on the road for seven years — said Bettina Zahnd, head of accident research and prevention at AXA Switzerland.

“We saw that in the micro and small-car classes slightly fewer accidents are caused by electric autos. If you look at the luxury and SUV classes, however, we see 40 percent more accidents with electric vehicles,” Zahnd said.

“We, of course, have thought about what causes this and acceleration is certainly a topic.”

Electric cars accelerate not only quickly, but also equally strongly no matter how high the revolutions per minute, which means drivers can find themselves going faster than they intended.

FASTFACT

Accident rates among luxury and SUV electric vehicles are 40 percent higher than for their combustion engine counterparts.

Half of electric car drivers in a survey this year by AXA had to adjust their driving to reflect the new acceleration and braking characteristics.

“Maximum acceleration is available immediately, while it takes a moment for internal combustion engines with even strong horsepower to reach maximum acceleration. That places new demands on drivers,” Zahnd said.

Sales of electric cars are on the rise as charging infrastructure improves and prices come down.

Electric vehicles accounted for less than 1 percent of cars on the road in Switzerland and Germany last year, but made up 1.8 percent of Swiss new car sales, or 6.6 percent including hybrids, AXA said.

Accidents with electric cars are just about as dangerous for people inside as with standard vehicles, AXA said. The cars are subject to the same tests and have the same passive safety features such as airbags and seatbelts.

But another AXA survey showed most people do not know how to react if they come across an electric vehicle crash scene.

While most factors are the same — securing the scene, alerting rescue teams and providing first aid — it said helpers should also try to ensure the electric motor is turned off. This is particularly important because unlike an internal combustion engine the motor makes no noise. In serious crashes, electric autos’ high-voltage power plants automatically shut down, AXA noted, but damaged batteries can catch fire up to 48 hours after a crash, making it more difficult to deal with the aftermath of
an accident.

For one head-on crash test on Thursday, AXA teams removed an electric car’s batteries to reduce the risk of them catching fire, which could create intense heat and toxic fumes.

Zahnd said that studies in Europe had not replicated US findings that silent electric vehicles are as much as two-thirds more likely to cause accidents with pedestrians or cyclists.

She said the jury was still out on how crash data would affect the cost of insuring electric versus standard vehicles, noting this always reflected factors around both driver and car.

“If I look around Switzerland, there are lots of insurers that even give discounts for electric autos because one would like to promote electric cars,” she said.