'In 2003, before the start of military operations in Iraq, the Russian Union of Oil and Gas Industrialists made a strong public statement against such action, warning that it would directly affect the interests of many Russian concerns,' Gennady Shmal declared at a press conference here Thursday. Shmal is president of the Union and chairman of the board of Rosneftegazstroi. More than 100 Russian companies have 'serious and remunerative contracts' in Iraq, he said.
'These contracts, generally, are for the construction of wells and related facilities and were part of the Oil for Food program,' he said. Specifically, he said, 'Rosneftegaz in conjunction with Syrian specialists formed an oil-well drilling company.' After the war, he said, meetings were held with representatives of the Provisional Council of Iraq at which the Iraqis said reviving their country's industry was 'unthinkable without Russian specialists.' Shmal then said: 'Yes, our people are leaving Iraq-and that is altogether right because the situation there is very dangerous. But I think this will be temporary. After some time, we will return. I don't see any way other than with our help for Iraq to get its oil industry back on its feet.'