BP has been holding meetings with Iraqi oil officials as it speeds up plans to re-enter one of the biggest but politically most controversial oil provinces in the world, five years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein by the British and US military.
The move comes as BP is drawing fire for abandoning any pursuit of green credentials. Environmental groups accuse the new chief executive, Tony Hayward, of "recarbonising" a once enlightened oil group.
BP said it was "possible" some of its executives might meet the Iraqi oil minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, today at a Royal Institute of International Affairs conference in London, sponsored by BP, Shell and other western oil majors.
A spokesman for BP, which will report annual profits of about $18bn, confirmed managers met Iraqi oil officials last week in Jordan and talked about providing technical assistance.
Iraq has more than 115bn barrels of recoverable reserves, an attraction for oil groups at a time when easily recoverable reserves are becoming more difficult to secure.
BP was last night playing down any likelihood of an imminent move into Iraq. "It is a country of interest to us but we are waiting for political and security stability to return before we will take anything further," a spokesman said.
The group has already undertaken technical studies on the Rumeila oilfield for the new government of Iraq. It is gearing up for further involvement following the drafting of a new oil law in Iraq. The chief executive of Shell, Jeroen van der Veer, also admitted last week that his company was looking closely at re-entering Iraq.
Yes, Shell and BP are poised to get their grubby little hands on Iraq's oil, courtesy of the proposed Iraq Oil Law. And they said the war was about oil. Pish.
Thursday, February 07, 2008