Algerian state energy company Sonatrach will study possible investments in oil exploration and natural gas projects in Iraq, according to a statement issued by the Iraq oil ministry on Sunday.
The statement cited comments by both oil ministers of Iraq Jabar al-Luaibi and Algeria Mustapha Guitouni, who arrived in Baghdad on Sunday.
Minister Luaibi hoped “to achieve concrete steps toward sealing a cooperation agreement with Sonatrach”.
The statement also indicated that the Algerian delegation will hold meetings with Iraqi energy companies.
Iraq continues to burn some of the gas extracted alongside crude oil at its fields because it lacks the facilities to process it into fuel for local consumption or exports. Algeria is Europe’s main supplier of gas, exporting it by pipelines and also shipping it on tankers after liquefying the gas in special plants.
Minister Guitouni expressed hope of strengthening cooperation in oil exploration and natural gas and holding discussions, consultations and meetings during this visit with Iraqi officials to bolster the volume of bilateral cooperation between the two brotherly countries in the fields of gas investment, oil exploration and others.
"Sonatrach Algerian company has great experience to achieve common goals among brothers Iraq and Algeria," added the statement quoting the Algerian minister.
Iraqi oil minister told reporters that his country is eager to push forward the level of cooperation with Algeria, speaking highly of historic cooperation between both Arab nations, as he hoped Baghdad could draw on Sonatrach's expertise to enhance its gas industry.
He also announced that Iraq will start exporting oil from the northern Kirkuk fields to Iran before the end of January. '‘God willing, we will start before the end of the month," he added.
About 30,000 barrels per day of crude oil will be transported to Iran’s Kermanshah refinery when exporting first begins, he said.
Iraq and Iran have agreed to swap up to 60,000 barrels per day of crude produced from Kirkuk for Iranian oil to be delivered to southern Iraq.
It is worth mentioning that Kirkuk crude sales have been halted since Iraqi forces took back control of the fields from the Kurds in October.
Iraq is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) second-largest crude producer behind Saudi Arabia, with an output of 4.4 million barrels per day, while Algeria has an estimated output of 1 million bpd.