Iraq discovers oil and gas in the Western Desert

By an OGJ Online Correspondent

BAGHDAD, May 29 -- Iraq has announced separate oil and gas discoveries in its Western Desert, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' news agency reported.

Regarding the new oil area, North Oil Co. Director Gen. Rafed Abdel Halim said plans were being made to drill more wells in the next few years. A gas field also was discovered in the Western Desert, although no details were available.

Iraq's oil reserves are estimated at 112 billion bbl, second to Saudi Arabia's 261 billion bbl. In March, Iraq said it had increased its oil reserves by 3 billion bbl to 115 billion bbl despite an embargo on oil exports imposed by the United Nations since 1990.

Iraq produces 3 billion b/d of crude and plans to double this in the next few years. It exports 2.1 million b/d under UN supervision.

Officials have threatened to halt oil exports if the UN Security Council adopts a British-US proposal that would ease UN sanctions but tighten an arms embargo against Iraq.

Oil Ministry Senior Undersecretary Taha Humud Musa has said it is unlikely Saudi Arabia could fill the void if Baghdad halted its oil exports.

Iraq has told Jordan, Syria, and Turkey it will cut off oil exports if those countries endorse the British-US proposal. On Monday, Iraq's parliament rejected the proposal.

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