LUKoil could return to Iraq

LUKoil has a chance to return to the Western Kurna-2 project in Iraq, Yury Shafranik, President of the Committee for Cultural, Scientific and Business Cooperation with Iraq, Chairman of the Union of Russian Oil and Gas Producers and former Energy Minister, said at a press conference in Moscow today. According to him, after signing a contract in 1997, LUKoil and the Iraqi government tried to supervise this project. However, Iraq expressed a tough position that the implementation of the contract should start not later than 3 to 4 years after the signing. And LUKoil could not fulfill its investment liabilities under the contract due to UN sanctions.

Shafranik pointed out that "problems have grown, but the project has not been lost; the parties are in consultations". At the same time, in his opinion, a change of the Iraqi government will not automatically lead to the restoration of the contract. As Shafranik stated, Iraq confirmed that the Western Kurna-2 project belonged to Russia. In his opinion, hypothetically the share of Zarubezhneft in this project could grow. "I believe that negotiations are being held in this regard," he said.

On the whole, Shafranik pointed out that without the implementation of "real" project in Iraq, Russia could forget about getting its money back. Iraq's current debt to Russia amounts to about $7bn.

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