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Iraq Asks Foreign Firms to Cut Budgets After Oil Price Crash

Iraq Asks Foreign Firms to Cut Budgets After Oil Price Crash

Friday, 27 March, 2020 - 09:30
FILE PHOTO: A policeman walks at West Qurna-1 oil field, which is operated by ExxonMobil, in Basra, Iraq, January 9, 2020. REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani
Asharq Al-Awsat

Iraq has sent a proposal to all international oil companies asking them to reduce the budgets of developing oilfields by 30% as the slump in oil prices has hit government revenues.

Iraqi oil officials and industry sources said the proposed cuts would have no effect on crude output.

Low oil prices have forced the oil ministry to review its plans on how to repay international oil companies (IOCs) their dues during the first six months of the year, the officials added.

The ministry is still waiting for an answer from the oil companies on this proposal.

Iraq pumps around 4.6 million barrels per day.

International firms operate in Iraq’s southern oilfields under service contracts. Under the contracts, they are paid a fixed dollar fee for volumes produced and Baghdad repays companies for the cost of building projects and approve oilfields development plans, Reuters reported.

A senior official at state-run Basra Oil Company said Iraq had proposed that the IOCs cut their expenses by 30% on condition that such cuts would not affect the country’s oil production levels.

“We still have no 2020 budget allocations and the declining oil prices have worsened the situation. This is why we need foreign contractors to do their best and cut expenses and also defer their dues,” said the senior BOC official.

A source at one of the foreign oil companies said: “We have received the letter on 30% budget cuts, no decision yet.”

For his part, Iraq’s oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said there had been discussions with the oil companies on cost cuts but a decision on that should be taken when there is more clarity on the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the oil market.

Meanwhile, ExxonMobil, which is the main developer of the West Qurna 1 oilfield in southern Iraq, has also asked all its suppliers in Iraq to reduce costs, according to Reuters.

“The oil and gas industry has been significantly impacted by the lowering trend of the crude oil prices which have reached the lowest point in the last 20 years,” Exxon said

“Therefore ExxonMobil Iraq… is expecting your company to explore opportunities to reduce cost as a matter of urgency.”

Exxon Mobil Corp has said it was notifying contractors and vendors of planned near-term cuts in capital and operating expenses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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