Russia's oil giant Lukoil announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the oil ministry of Iraq that will decide how the company will operate in the occupied country.
Negotiations took place on March 10 between President of Lukoil, Vagit Alekperov and Iraqi Minister of Oil, Ibrahim Bahr Al-Ulyum.
The Russian oil major has agreed to restore the material and technological base of the Iraqi oil ministry, which has been largely destroyed by the year-old war. Moreover, the parties agreed to establish a technical committee for coordination of their activities in the oil and gas sphere, reported a press release.
According to the MoU, Lukoil will organize a six-year academic course for 40 Iraqi students at the Moscow Gubkin Oil and Gas University. Starting from 2005, the number of students will increase to 100 people per year.
In addition, Lukoil will arrange short-term skills improvement courses for the Ministry employees at the company’s training centers and operating facilities. This year, some 100 employees of the Ministry will visit Russia for training.
“I regard the signing of the memorandum as a positive step in development of our dialog with the Iraqi side,” said Alekperov. “It witnesses the seriousness of our intentions to consolidate long-term cooperation with the Ministry of Oil of Iraq.”
Lukoil had orginally signed an agreement with the former Iraqi regime in 1997 to develop the West Qurna-2 oilfield. The deal was cancelled, however, when Saddam Hussein’s regime demanded Lukoil be replaced by another Russian company. The contract was scrapped presumably because Lukoil was conducting quiet talks with the United States and Iraqi opposition.
Negotiations were revived; however Iraq broke the $3.8 billion oilfield development contract with Lukoil for the second time in 2003. The Iraqis accused Lukoil of trying to guarantee its rights to the field in case a US-led military strike on Iraq topples President Saddam Hussein’s regime and institutes a new government. The deal could not be implemented as long as UN sanctions were in place. — (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )