LUKOIL cuts Iraq oil output plan by a third

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Russia’s second-largest crude producer LUKOIL said it has cut its oil production plan in Iraq by almost a third, in line with the local government’s plans to increase the lifetime of its oilfields.

Andrei Kuzyayev, head of LUKOIL Overseas, told Russian state TV channel Rossiya-24 in an interview aired on Wednesday that LUKOIL is now looking for peak production at the West Qurna-2 oilfield of 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd), not 1.8 million bpd as previously envisaged.

West Qurna-2 is the world’s second-largest undeveloped field with recoverable oil reserves of around 14 billion barrels, according to LUKOIL.

Kuzyayev said the Iraqi government has decided to cut peak oil production in order to prop up oil prices and help its economy.

“That’s why Iraq’s leadership has decided to limit production in the whole country to 9 million bpd, not 12 million bpd,” he said.

“The Iraqis have analyzed the situation for the last three years, and they come to the conclusion they didn't need (sharp rises in) peak production,” Kuzyayev added. “That’s because the peak production will lead to creation of excessive infrastructure. And going forward, when production will start to sharply decline that would create an unstable macroeconomic situation in Iraq.

Iraq has signed a series of contracts with foreign companies that target total oil production capacity of 12 million bpd by 2017, but has been reviewing the target.

“In return (for cuts) we got a substantial increase in the lifetime of the plateau production. The plateau output has been envisaged to last 12-13 years, while now it has been revised to 19 years,” Kuzyayev said.

Any deep cut to Iraq’s overall target could mean the deals could need to be adjusted to accommodate lower production plateaus, or peak output levels, which would mean lower returns for oil companies in the short term.

Oil output in 2013 was targeted to reach an average 3.7 million bpd - just shy of an all-time high of 3.8 million, hit in 1979. Exports are expected to run at 2.9 million bpd, including 250,000 bpd contributed by the northern Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

West Qurna

LUKOIL controls 75 percent in Iraq’s huge West Qurna-2 oilfield and has been looking for a partner to replace Statoil which decided to leave the project earlier this year, but has declined to name any candidates.

The deposit alone is expected to produce 500,000 barrels per day in 2014. LUKOIL plans to invest some $5 billion in development of the field next year, while total investments for the whole period of the project are seen at $30 billion.

Kuzyayev said the company would be happy to sell the share left from Statoil it currently owns to an Asian company as it needs to secure stable market for its oil.

“We are forced to find a strategic partner, first of all, on the markets which are slated for growth. These are the markets of China, India and South-East Asia,” he said.