Can you explain why Iraq is considered such an important market for the global oil and gas industry?

Iraq has historically been one of the most important areas in the world for oil reserves and production potential. The size and quality of the reservoirs in Iraq are exceptional, and there is also potential for gas valorisation and downstream sector empowerment. Additionally, the government of Iraq is open to the application of new technology and innovation, which can lead to significant production enhancement in the short term. For example, Eni has experienced exceptional oil production ramp-up of over 70% in the giant Zubair field over the past two years.

How does the Government of Iraq work with the oil and gas industry to drive innovation?

The drive for development in the oil and gas industry relies on the effective deployment of new technology, and the presence of IOCs in the country and effective know-how transfer from the industry to the brightest Iraqi personnel can be leveraged to achieve significant improvements from many perspectives. For instance, Eni’s cooperation with the SOC in the Zubair JV has marked a new attitude in the country, and it has the potential to strengthen win-win solutions and further improve the deployment of innovative technology in Iraq.

As an industry expert and Eni Iraq Managing Director, can you summarize your experience working in Iraq?

Working in Iraq has been a very exciting but extremely challenging professional experience that requires motivation, resilience, passion for work, technical competence, and strong negotiation skills. Eni has built relationships and personal trust with the SOC/MOO personnel based on transparency, integrity, and technical competence, which have been the drivers for significant growth over the past few years. The involvement of all Iraqi and expatriate personnel as one unique team for the successful development of the Zubair field has been key to our success. Our project cost recovery has been positive over the last period thanks to the cooperation of SOC following their entry in the Zubair JV.

Eni has achieved significant results in both operations and project development perspectives. For example, at the beginning of March 2016, three new generation plants for oil, gas, and water treatment started operating in Zubair. These plants, together with existing restructured and modernized facilities, increased the oil and natural gas treatment capacity of Zubair to approximately 650,000 barrels of oil per day and ensured the maximization of the associated gas utilization. In addition, these facilities have a water re-injection capacity of approximately 300,000 barrels of oil per day that will boost Zubair’s hydrocarbons production further. Eni has increased its output in Zubair of about 70% to the current level above 430,000 barrels of oil per day over the last two years. Water injection has also risen to about 450,000 barrels of water per day, ensuring the maximum recovery of reserves.

Eni’s operational efficiency has improved dramatically thanks to our distinctive expertise and important training of local resources in terms of productivity of wells and drilling and plant management capabilities, and reduced downtimes. The significant achievements in the technical and operational performance improvement of Zubair were obtained through excellent performance in terms of safety at work and respect for the environment. Therefore, Zubair can further grow in the near future if the cooperation with the local authorities remains positive, as it has been over the recent past.

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