Kurdistan Oil Project Flops

      September 16, 2011 11:03

      An oil project in Kurdish northern Iraq into which the Korea National Oil Corporation had poured about US$400 million has proved unfeasible.

      The project was agreed in February 2008 between then president-elect Lee Myung-bak and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani of the autonomous regional government, who was visiting Seoul. The contract was signed in June that year. At that time, the project was touted as success for Lee’s "resource diplomacy.” The KNOC had boasted it secured about 1.9 billion barrels of oil, the equivalent of two years' consumption for all of Korea.

      But according to data KNOC gave to Grand National Party lawmaker Lee Hak-jae of the National Assembly Knowledge Economy Committee on Thursday, drilling at five oil fields -- Bazian, Sangaw North, Sangaw South, Qush Tappa, and Hawler Area -- showed that they have nearly no economic value. Some had no oil deposits at all, while deposits at others fell far short of expectations. Still others fields contained either water or a small amount of natural gas instead of crude oil.

      KNOC gave $211.4 million to the Kurdistan regional government after the contract was signed and spent another $188.68 million on drilling.

      "This is a typical case of failure in overseas resource development caused by a hurry to achieve impressive results, without a proper feasibility study being done first," the lawmaker said. "We need to thoroughly review all overseas resource development projects."

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